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Full text of "Falkner; a novel"



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FALKNEK 



A NOVEL 



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BY 



THE AUTHOR OF "FRANKENSTEIN; " 
"THE LAST MAN," &c. 



"THE LAST MAW,' 7 &c. y 



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there stood 



In record of a sweet sad story, 
An altar, and a temple bright, 
Circled by steps, and o'er the gate 
Was sculptured, 'To Fidelity !' " 

Shelley. 



)o y j e o o 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 
' — VOL: I— »•• 



LONDON 
SAUNDERS AND OTLEY CONDUIT STREET 



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STEVENS AND PAHDON, PRINTERS, 
BELL YAHD, TEMPLE BAR. 



FALKNER. 



CHAPTER I. 

The opening scene of this tale took place in a 
little village on the southern coast of Corn- 
wall. Treby (by that name we choose to de- 
signate a spot, whose true one, for several 
reasons, will not be given,) was, indeed, rather 
a hamlet than a village, although, being at the 
sea-side, there were two or three houses which, 
by dint of green paint and chintz curtains, pre- 
tended to give the accommodation of " Apart- 
ments Furnished" to the few bathers who, 
having heard of its cheapness, seclusion, and 

VOL. I. b 



2 FALKNER. 

beauty, now and then resorted thither from 
the neighbouring towns. 

This part of Cornwall shares much of the 
peculiar and exquisite beauty which every 
Englishman knows adorns "the sweet shire 
of Devon." The hedges near Treby, like those 
round Dawlish and Torquay, are redolent with 
a thousand flowers : the neighbouring fields 
are prankt with all the colours of Flora, — its 
soft air, — the picturesque bay in which it stood, 
as it were, enshrined, — its red cliffs, and ver- 
dure reaching to the very verge of the tide, — 
all breathe the same festive and genial atmo- 
sphere. The cottages give the same promise 
of comfort, and are adorned by nature with 
more luxurious loveliness than the villas of 
the rich in a less happy climate. 

Treby was almost unknown ; yet, whoever 
visited it might well prefer its sequestered 
beauties to many more renowned competitors. 
Situated in the depths of a little bay, it was 
sheltered on all sides by the cliffs. Just be- 



A 



FALKNER. 3 

hind the hamlet the cliff made a break, form- 
ing a little ravine, in the depth of which ran a 
clear stream, on whose banks were spread the \ 
orchards of the villagers, whence they derived 
their chief wealth. Tangled bushes and luxu- 
riant herbage diversified the cliffs, some of 
which were crowned by woods; and in "every 
nook and coign of Vantage" were to be seen 
and scented the glory of that coast — its ex- 
haustless store of flowers. The village was, 
as has been said, in the depth of a bay ; to- 
wards the east the coast rqunded off with a 
broad sweep, forming a varied line of bay and 
headland: to the-wl3st a little promontory 
shot out abruptly, and at once closed in the 
view. This point of land was the peculiarity 
of Treby. The cliff that gave it its picturesque 
appearance was not high, but was remarkable 
for being crowned by the village church, with 
its slender spire. 

Long may it be before the village church- 
yard ceases to be in England a favoured spot— 

b 2 



FALKNER, 



the home of rural and holy seclusion. At 
Treby it derived a new beauty, from its dis- 
tance from the village, and the eminence on 
which it was placed, overlooking the wide 
ocean, the sands, the village itself, with its 
gardens, orchards, and gaily painted fields. 
From the church a straggling, steep, yet not 
impracticable path, led down to the sands ; by 
way of the beach ; indeed, the distance from 
the village to the church was scarcely more 
than half a mile; but no vehicle could ap- 
proach, except by the higher road, which, fol- 
lowing the line of coast, measured nearly two 
miles. The edifice itself, picturesque in its 
rustic simplicity, seemed at the distance to be 
embosomed in a neighbouring grove. There 
was no house, nor even cottage, near. The 
contiguous church-yard contained about two 
acres ; a light, white paling surrounded it on 
three sides; on the fourth was a high wall, 
clothed thickly with ivy : the trees of the near 
wood overhung both wall and paling, except 



FALKNEIU O 

on the side of the cliff: the waving of their 
branches, the murmur of the tide, and the oc- 
casional scream of sea- fowl, were all the sounds 
that disturbed, or rather harmonized with, the 
repose and solitude of the spot. 

On Sunday, the inhabitants of several ham- 
lets congregated here to attend divine service. 
Those of Treby usually approached by the 
beach, and the path of the cliff, the old and 
infirm only taking the longer, but more easy 
road. On every other day of the week, all 
was quiet, except when the hallowed precincts 
were visited by happy parents with a new-born 
babe, by bride and bridegroom hastening all 
gladly to enter on the joys and cares of life — 
or by the train of mourners who attended rela- 
tion or friend to the last repose of the dead. 

The poor are not sentimental — and, except 
on Sunday, after evening service, when a 
mother might linger for a few moments near 
the fresh grave of a lately lost child — or, 



6 FALKNER. 

loitering among the rustic tombs, some of the 
elder peasants told tales of the feats of the 
dead companions of their youth, a race un- 
equalled, so they said, by the generation 
around them. Save on that day, none ever 
visited or wandered among the graves, with 
the one exception of a child, who had early 
learned to mourn, yet whose infantine mind 
could scarcely understand the extent of the 
cause she had for tears. A little girl, unno- 
ticed and alone, was wont, each evening, to 
trip over the sands — to scale, with light steps, 
the cliff, which was of no gigantic height, and 
then, unlatching the low, white gate of the 
church-yard, to repair to one corner, where 
the boughs of the near trees shadowed over 
two graves — two graves, of which one only 
was distinguished by a simple head-stone, to 
commemorate the name of him who moul- 
dered beneath. This tomb was inscribed to 
the memory of Edwin Raby, but the neigh- 



FALRNER. 7 

bouring and less honoured grave claimed 
more of the child's attention — for her mother 
lay beneath the unrecorded turf. 

Beside this grassy hillock she would sit and 
talk to herself, and play, till, warned home by 
the twilight, she knelt and said her little 
prayer, and, with a " Good night, mamma," 
took leave of a spot with which was associated 
the being whose caresses and love she called 
to mind, hoping that one day she might again 
enjoy them. Her appearance had much in it 
to invite remark, had there been any who 
cared to notice a poor little orphan. Her 
dress, in some of its parts, betokened that she 
belonged to the better classes of society ; but 
she had no stockings, and her little feet peeped 
from the holes of her well-worn shoes. Her 
straw bonnet was dyed dark with sun and sea 
spray, and its blue ribbon faded. The child 
herself would, in any other spot, have attracted 
more attention than the incongruities of her 
attire. There is an expression of face which 



8 FALKNER. 

we name angelic, from its purity, its tender- 
ness, and, so to speak, plaintive serenity, 
which we oftener see in young children than 
in persons of a more advanced age. And 
such was hers : her hair, of a light golden 
brown, was parted over a brow, fair and open 
as day : her eyes, deep set and earnest, were 
full of thought and tenderness : her com- 
plexion was pure and stainless, except by the 
roses that glowed in her cheek, while each 
vein could be traced on her temples, and you 
could almost mark the flow of the violet- 
coloured blood beneath : her mouth was the 
very nest of love : her serious look was at 
once fond and imploring ; but when she smiled, 
it was as if sunshine broke out at once, warm 
and unclouded : her figure had the plumpness 
of infancy ; but her tiny hands and feet, and 
tapering waist, denoted the faultless perfec- 
tion of her form. She was about six years 
old — a friendless orphan, cast, thus young, 
pennyless on a thorny, stony-hearted world » 



FALKNER. 



9 



Nearly two years previous, a gentleman, 
with his wife and little daughter, arrived at 
Treby, and took up his abode at one of the 
moderate priced lodging-houses before men- 
tioned. The occasion of their visit was but 
too evident. The husband, Mr. Raby, was 
dying of a consumption. The family had 
migrated early in September, so to receive the 
full benefit of a mild winter in this favoured 
spot. It did not appear to those about him 
that he could live to see that winter. He 
was wasted to a shadow — the hectic in his 
cheek, the brightness of his eyes and the 
debility apparent in every movement, showed 
that disease was triumphing over the princi- 
ples of life. Yet, contrary to every prognostic, 
he lived on from week to week, from month 
to month. Now he was said to be better — 
now worse — and thus a winter of extraordinary 
mildness was passed. But with the east winds 
of spring a great deterioration was visible. 
His invalid walks in the sun grew shorter, and 

b3 



10 FALKNER. 

then were exchanged for a few minutes 
passed sitting in his garden. Soon he was 
confined to his room — -then to his bed. 
During the first week of a bleak, ungenial 
May, he died. 

The extreme affection that subsisted be- 
tween the pair rendered his widow an object 
of interest even to the villagers. They were 
both young, and she was beautiful ; and more 
beautiful was their offspring — the little girl 
we have mentioned — who, watched over and 
attended on by her mother, attracted admira- 
tion as well as interest, by the peculiar style 
of her childish, yet perfect loveliness. Every 
one wondered what the bereaved lady would 
do ; and she, poor soul, wondered herself, 
and would sit watching the gambols of her 
child in an attitude of unutterable despon- 
dency, till the little girl, remarking the sad- 
ness of her mother, gave over playing to 
caress, and kiss her, and to bid her smile. 
At such a word the tears fell fast from the 



FALKNER. 11 

widow's eyes, and the frightened child joined 
her sobs and cries to hers. 

Whatever might be the sorrows and diffi- 
culties of the unhappy lady, it was soon evi- 
dent to all but herself, that her own life was 
a fragile tenure. She had attended on her 
husband with unwearied assiduity, and, added 
to bodily fatigue, was mental suffering ; partly 
arising from anxiety and grief, and partly 
from the very virtues of the sufferer. He 
knew that he was dying, and tried to recon- 
cile his wife to her anticipated loss. But his 
words, breathing the most passionate love 
and purest piety, seemed almost to call her 
also from the desolation to which he was 
leaving her, and to dissolve the ties that held 
her to earth* When he was gone, life pos- 
sessed no one attraction except their child. 
Often while her father, with pathetic elo- 
quence, tried to pour the balm of resignation, 
and hopes of eternal reunion, into his wife's 
heart, she had sat on her mother's knee, or 



12 FALKNER. 

on a little stool at her feet, and looked up, 
with her cherub face, a little perplexed, a 
little fearful, till, at some words of too plain 
and too dread an import, she sprung into her 
father's arms, and clinging to his neck, amidst 
tears and sobs, cried out, " You must not leave 
us, papa ! you must stay — you shall not go 
away !" 

Consumption, in all countries except our 
own, is considered a contagious disorder, and 
it too often proves such here. During her 
close attendance, Mrs. Raby had imbibed the 
seeds of the fatal malady, and grief, and a deli- 
cate texture of nerves, caused them to develop 
with alarming rapidity. Every one perceived 
this except herself. She thought that her 
indisposition sprung from over- fatigue and 
grief, but that repose would soon restore her ; 
and each day, as her flesh wasted and her 
blood flowed more rapidly, she said, " I shall be 
better to-morrow." There was no one at Treby 
to advise or assist her. She was not one of 



FALKNER. 13 

those who make friends and intimates of all 
who fall in their way. She was gentle, con- 
siderate, courteous — but her refined mind 
shrunk from displaying its deep wounds to 
the vulgar and unfeeling. 

After her husband's death she had writ- 
ten several letters, which she carefully put 
into the post-office herself — going on purpose 
to the nearest post town, three miles distant* 
She had received one in answer, and it had 
the effect of increasing every fatal symptom, 
through the anguish and excessive agitation 
it excited. Sometimes she talked of leaving 
Treby, but she delayed till she should be 
better; which time, the villagers plainly saw, 
would never come, but they were not aware 
how awfully near the crisis really was. 

One morning — her husband had now been 
dead about four months — she called up the 
woman of the house in which she lodged ; 
there was a smile on her face, and a pink spot 
burnt brightly in either cheek, while her brow 



14 FALKNER. 

was ashy pale ; there was something ghastly in 
the very gladness her countenance expressed ; 
yet she felt nothing of all this, but said, "The 
newspaper you lent me had good news in it, 
Mrs. Baker. It tells me that a dear friend 
of mine is arrived in England, whom I thought 
still on the Continent. I am going to write to 
her. Will you let your daughter take my 
little girl a walk while I write ?" 

Mrs. Baker consented. The child was equip- 
ped and sent out, while her mother sat down 
to write. In about an hour she came out of 
her parlour ; Mrs. Baker saw her going towards 
the garden; she tottered as she walked, so the 
woman hastened to her. " Thank you," she 
said ; " I feel strangely faint — I had much to 
say, and that letter has unhinged me — I must 
finish it to-morrow — now the air will restore 
me — I can scarcely breathe." 

Mrs. Baker offered her arm. The sufferer 
walked faintly and feebly to a little bench, and, 
sitting down, supported herself by her com- 



FALKNER. 15 

panion. Her breath grew shorter ; she mur- 
mured some words ; Mrs. Baker bent down, 
but could catch only the name of her child, 
which was the last sound that hovered on the 
mother's lips. With one sigh her heart ceased 
to beat, and life quitted her exhausted frame. 
The poor woman screamed loudly for help, as 
she felt her press heavily against her; and 
then, sliding from her seat, sink lifeless on 
the ground. 



16 FALKNER, 



CHAPTER II. 



It was to Mrs. Baker's credit that she did 
not attempt to investigate the affairs of her 
hapless lodger till after the funeral. A purse, 
containing twelve guineas, which she found on 
her table, served, indeed, to satisfy her that 
she would be no immediate loser. However, 
as soon as the sod covered the gentle form of 
the unfortunate lady, she proceeded to examine 
her papers. The first that presented itself 
was the unfinished letter which Mrs. Raby 
was engaged in writing at the time of her 
death. This promised information, and Mrs. 



FALKNER. 17 

Baker read it with eagerness. It was as 
follows : — 

" My dearest Friend, 
""A newspaper lias just informed me that 
you are returned to England, while I still be- 
lieved you to be, I know not where, on the 
Continent. Dearest girl, it is long since I have 
written, for I have been too sad, too uncertain 
about your movements, and too unwilling to 
cloud your happiness, by forcing you to re- 
member one so miserable. My beloved friend, 
my schoolfellow, my benefactress ; you will 
grieve to hear of my misfortunes, and it is 
selfish in me, even now, to intrude upon you 
with the tale ; but, under heaven, I have no 
hope, except in my generous, my warm-hearted 
Alithea. Perhaps you have already heard of 
my disaster, and are aware that death has 
robbed me of the happiness which, under your 
kind fosterage, I had acquired and enjoyed. 
He is dead who was my all in this world, and 



18 FALKNER. 

but for one tie I should bless the day when 
I might be permitted to rest for ever beside 
him. 

" I often wonder, dear Alithea, at the heed- 
lessness and want of foresight with which 1 
entered life. Doomed, through poverty and 
my orphan state, to earn my bread as a go- 
verness, my entrance on that irksome task 
was only delayed by my visit to you : then 
under your dear roof I saw and was beloved 
by Edwin ; and his entreaties, and your en- 
couragement, permitted my trembling heart to 
dream of — to possess happiness. Timidity of 
character made me shrink from my career : 
diffidence never allowed me to suppose that 
any one would interest themselves enough in 
me to raise the poor trembler from the 
ground, to shelter and protect her ; and this 
kind of despondency rendered Edwin's love a 
new, glorious, and divine joy. Yet, when I 
thought of his parents, I trembled — I could 
not bear to enter a family where I was to be 



FALKNER. 19 

regarded as an unwelcome intruder ; yet Ed- 
win was already an outcast — already father 
and brothers, every relation, had disowned 
him — and he, like I, was alone. And you, 
Alithea, how fondly, how sweetly did you en- 
courage me — making that appear my duty 
which was the fulfilment of my wildest dreams 
of joy. Surely no being ever felt friendship 
as you have done — sympathizing even in the 
untold secrets of a timid heart — enjoying the 
happiness that you conferred with an ardour 
few can feel, even for themselves. Your 
transports of delight when you saw me, through 
your means, blest, touched me with a grati- 
tude that can never die. And do I show this 
by asking now for your pity, and saddening 
you by my grief? Pardon me, sweet friend, 
and do not wonder that this thought has long 
delayed my letter. 

" We were happy — poor, but content. Po- 
verty was no evil to me, and Edwin supported 
every privation as if he had never been accus- 



20 FALKNER. 

tomed to luxury. The spirit that had caused 
him to shake off the shackles his bigoted 
family threw over him, animated him to exer- 
tions beyond his strength. He had chosen for 
himself — he wished to prove that his choice 
was good. I do not allude to our marriage, 
but to his desertion of the family religion, and 
determination to follow a career not permitted 
by the policy of his relations to any younger 
son. He was called to the bar — he toiled in- 
cessantly — he was ambitious, and his talents 
gave every promise of success. He is gone- 
gone for ever ! I have lost the noblest, wisest 
friend that ever breathed, the most devoted 
lover, and truest husband that ever blessed 
woman ! 

" I write incoherently. You know what 
our life in London was — obscure but happy — 
the scanty pittance allowed him seemed to me 
amply to suffice for all our wants ; I only then 
knew of the wants of youth and health, which 
were love and sympathy. I had all this, crown- 



FALKNER. 21 

ing to the brim my cup of life— the birth of 
our sweet child filled it to overflowing. Our 
dingy lodgings, near the courts of law, were a 
palace to me ; I should have despised myself 
heartily could I have desired any thing beyond 
what I possessed. I never did — nor did I fear 
its loss. I was grateful to Heaven, and thus, 
I fancied, that I paid the debt of my unmea- 
sured prosperity. 

" Can I say what I felt when I marked 
Edwin's restless nights, flushed cheek, and the 
cough that would not go away 1 these things I 
dare not dwell upon — my tears overflow — my 
heart beats to bursting — the fatal truth was at 
last declared ; the fatal word, consumption, 
spoken : change of air was all the hope held 
out — we came here ; the church-yard near 
holds now all earthly that remains of him— 
would that my dust were mingling with his ! 

" Yet I have a child, my Alithea ; and yOu, 
who are incomparable as a mother, will feel 
that I ought not to grieve so bitterly while this 



22 FALKNER. 

dear angel remains to me. I know, indeed, 
that without her, life would at once suspend 
all its functions ; why, then, is it, that while 
she is with me I am not stronger, more heroic? 
for, to keep her with me, I must leave the in- 
dolence of my present life — I must earn the 
bread of both. I should not repine at this — 
I shall not, when I am better ; but I am very 
ill and weak ; and though each day I rise, re- 
solving to exert myself, before the morning 
has past away I lie down exhausted, trembling, 
and faint. 

" When I lost Edwin, I wrote to Mr. Raby, 
acquainting him with the sad intelligence, and 
asking for a maintenance for myself and my 
child. The family solicitor answered my letter. 
Edwin's conduct had, I was told, estranged his 
family from him ; and they could only regard 
me as one encouraging his disobedience and 
apostacy. I had no claim on them. If my child 
were sent to them, and I would promise to ab- 
stain from all intercourse with her, she should 



FALKNER. 23 

be brought up with her cousins, and treated 
in all respects like one of the family. I an- 
swered this letter hastily and proudly. I de- 
clined their barbarous offer, and haughtily, and 
in few words, relinquished every claim on their 
bounty, declaring my intention to support and 
bring up my child myself. This was foolishly 
done, I fear ; but I cannot regret it even now. 
" I cannot regret the impulse that made 
me disdain these unnatural and cruel relatives, 
or that led me to take my poor orphan to my 
heart with pride, as being all my own. What 
had they done to merit such a treasure ? How 
did they show themselves capable of replacing 
a fond and anxious mother? How many 
blooming girls have they sacrificed to their 
peculiar views ! With what careless eyes they 
regard the sweetest emotions of nature! — 
never shall my adored girl be made the victim 
of that loveless race. Do you remember our 
sweet child ? She was lovely from her birth ; 
and surely, if ever angel assumed an earthly 



24 FALKNER. 

vesture, it took a form like my darling : her 
loveliness expresses only the beauty of her dis- 
position ; so young, yet so full of sensibility ; 
her temper is without a flaw, and her intelli- 
gence transcends her age. You will not laugh 
at me for mv maternal enthusiasm, nor will 
you wonder at it ; her endearing caresses, her 
cherub smiles, the silver accents of her infan- 
tine voice, fill me with trembling rapture. Is 
she not too good for this bad world? I fear 
it, I fear to lose her ; I fear to die and to leave 
her ; yet if I should, will you not cherish, will 
you not be a mother to her? I may be pre- 
sumptuous ; but if I were to die, even now, I 
should die in the belief that I left my child 
another mother in you ." 

The letter broke off here, and these were 
the last words of the unfortunate writer. It 
contained a sad, but too common story of the 
hardheartedness of the wealthy, and the mi- 
sery endured by the children of the high-born. 



FALKXER. 25 

Blood is not water, it is said, but gold with 
them is dearer far than the ties of nature ; to 
keep and augment their possessions being the 
aim and end of their lives, the existence, and, 
more especially, the happiness of their children, 
appears to them a consideration at once trivial 
and impertinent, when it would compete with 
family views and family greatness. To this 
common and iniquitous feeling these luckless 
beings were sacrificed ; they had endured the 
worst, and could be injured no more ; but 
their orphan child was a living victim, less 
thought of than the progeny of the meanest 
animal which might serve to augment their 
possessions. 

Mrs. Baker felt some complacency on read- 
ing this letter ; with the common English re- 
spect for wealth and rank, she was glad to 
find that her humble roof had sheltered a man 
who was the son — she did not exactly know of 
whom, but of somebody, who had younger sons 
and elder sons, and possessed, through wealth, 

vol. i. c 



26 FALKNER. 

the power of behaving frightfully ill to a rasl 
number of persons. There was a grandeur 
and dignity in the very idea; but the good 
woman felt less satisfaction as she proceeded 
in her operations — no other letter or paper ap- 
peared to inform or to direct. Every letter 
had been destroyed, and the young pair had 
brought no papers or documents with them. 
She could not guess to whom the unfinished 
letter she held was addressed, all was dark- 
ness and ignorance. She was aghast — there 
was none to whom to apply — none to whom to 
send the orphan. In a more busy part of the 
world, an advertisement in the newspapers 
would have presented itself as a resource ; but 
Treby was too much cut off from the rest of 
the world, for its inhabitants to conceive so 
daring an idea; and Mrs. Baker, repining 
much at the burthen fallen upon her, and fear- 
ful of the future, could imagine no means bv 
which to discover the relations of the little 
orphan ; and her only notion was to wait, in 



FALKNER. 27 

hopes that some among them would at last 
make inquiries concerning her. 

Nearly a year had passed away, and no 
one had appeared. The unfortunate lady's 
purse was soon emptied — and her watch, 
with one or two trinkets of slight value, dis- 
posed of. The child was of small cost, but 
still her sordid protectress harped perpetually 
on her ill luck : — she had a family of her own, 
and plenty of mouths to feed. Missy was but 
little, but she would get bigger — though for 
that matter it was worse now, as she wanted 
more taking care of — besides, she was getting 
quite a disgrace — her bonnet was so shabby, 
and her shoes worn out — and how could she 
afford to buy others for one who was not a bit 
of her flesh and blood, to the evident hurt of 
her own children ? It was bad enough now, 
but, by and by, she saw nothing but the 
parish ; though Missy was born for better than 
that, and her poor mamma would turn in her 

c2 



28 FALKNER. 

grave at the name of such a thing. For her 
part she was to blame, she feared, and too 
generous — but she would wait yet a little 
longer before it came to that — for who could 
tell — and here Mrs. Baker's prudence dam- 
med up the stream of her eloquence — to no 
living ear did she dare trust her dream of the 
coach and six that might one day come for her 
little charge — and the remuneration and pre- 
sents that would be heaped upon her ; — she 
actually saved the child's best frock, though 
she had quite outgrown it, that on such a day 
her appearance might do her honour. But 
this was a secret — she hid these vague but 
splendid images deep in her heart, lest some 
neighbour might be seized with a noble emu- 
lation — and through some artifice share in her 
dreamy gains. It was these anticipations that 
prevented Mrs. Baker from taking any deci- 
sive step injurious to her charge — but they did 
not shed anv rosv hues over her diurnal com- 



FALKNER. 



plaints — they grew more peevish and fre- 
quent, as time passed away, and her visions 
attained no realization. 

The little orphan grew meanwhile as a 
garden rose, that accident has thrown amidst 
briers and weeds — blooming with alien beauty, 
and unfolding its soft petals — and shedding its 
ambrosial odour beneath the airs of heaven, 
unharmed by its strange position. Lovely as 
a day of paradise, which by some strange 
chance visits this nether world to gladden 
every heart, she charmed even her selfish pro- 
tectress, and, despite her shabby attire, her 
cherub smiles — the free and noble steps which 
her tiny feet could take even now, and the 
music of her voice, rendered her the object of 
respect and admiration, as well as love, to the 
whole village. 

The loss of her father had acquainted the 
poor child with death. Her mother had ex- 
plained the awful mystery as well as she could 
to her infantine intellects, and, indulging in 



30 FALKNER. 

her own womanish and tender fancies, had 
often spoken of the dead as hovering over 
and watching around his loved ones, even in 
the new state of existence to which he had 
been called. Yet she wept as she spoke : 
" He is happy," she exclaimed, " but he is not 
here ! Why did he leave us ? Ah, why desert 
those who loved him so well, who need him 
so dearly. How forlorn and cast away are 
we without him !" 

These scenes made a deep impression upon 
the sensitive child — and when her mother 
died too, and was carried away and placed in 
the cold earth, beside her husband, the orphan 
would sit for hours by the graves, now fancying 
that her mother must soon return, now exclaim- 
ing, "Why are you gone away? Come, dear 
mamma, come back — come quickly ! " Young 
as she was, it was no wonder that such thoughts 
were familiar to her. The minds of children 
are often as intelligent as those of persons of 
maturer age — and differ only by containing 



FALKNER. 31 

fewer ideas—but these had so often been pre- 
sented to her — and she so fixed her little heart 
on the idea that her mother was watching over 
her, that at last it became a part of her religion 
to visit, every evening, the two graves, and say- 
ing her prayers near them, to believe that her 
mother's spirit, which was obscurely associa- 
ted with her mortal remains reposing below, 
listened to and blest her on that spot. 

At other times, neglected as she was, and 
left to wander at will, she conned her lesson, 
as she had been accustomed at her mother's 
feet, beside her grave. She took her picture- 
books there — and even her playthings. The 
villagers were affected by her childish notion 
of being " with mamma ;" and Missy became 
something of an angel in their eyes, so that 
no one interfered with her visits, or tried to 
explain away her fancies. She was the nurs- 
ling of love and nature : but the human 
hearts which could have felt the greatest 



32 FALKNER. 

tenderness for her, beat no longer, and had 
become clods of the soil, — 

Borne round in earth's diurnal course 
With rocks, and stones, and trees. 

There was no knee on which she could play- 
fully climb — no neck round which she could 
fondly hang — no parent's cheek on which to 
print her happy kisses — these two graves were 
all of relationship she knew upon the earth — 
and she would kiss the ground and the flowers, 
not one of which she plucked — as she sat em- 
bracing the sod. " Mamma " was everywhere 
around. "Mamma" was there beneath, and 
still she could love and feel herself beloved. 

At other times she played gaily with her 
young companions in the village — and some- 
times she fancied that she loved some one 
among them — she made them presents of books 
and toys, the relics of happier days ; for the de- 
sire to benefit, which springs up so naturally 



FALKNER. 33 

in a loving heart, was strong within her, even 
in that early age. But she never took any 
one with her in her church-yard visits — she 
needed none while she was with mamma. 
Once indeed a favourite kitten was carried to 
the sacred spot, and the little animal played 
amidst the grass and flowers, and the child 
joined in its frolics — her solitary gay laugh 
might be heard among the tombs — she did not 
think it solitary ; mamma was there to smile 
on her, as she sported with her tiny favourite. 






c3 



34 FALKNEU. 



CHAPTER III. 



Towards the end of a hot, calm day of 
June, a stranger arrived atTreby. The varia- 
tions of calm and wind are always remarkable 
at the sea- side, and are more particularly to be 
noticed on this occasion; since it was the still- 
ness of the elements that caused the arrival of 
the stranger. During the whole day several 
vessels had been observed in the ofling, lying 
to for a wind, or making small way under 
press of sail. As evening came on, the water 
beyond the bay lay calmer than ever; but a 
slight breeze blew from shore, and these 



FALKNER. 35 

vessels, principally colliers, bore down close 
under it, endeavouring by short tacks to pro- 
cure a long one, and at last to gain sea-room 
to make the eastern headland of the bay. The 
fishermen on shore watched the manoeuvres 
of the different craft ; and even interchanged 
shouts with the sailors, as they lay lazily on 
the beach. At length they were put in 
motion by a hail for a boat from a small mer- 
chantman — the call was obeyed — the boat 
neared the vessel — a gentleman descended into 
it — his portmanteau was handed after him — -a 
few strokes of the oar drove the boat on the 
beach, and the stranger leapt out upon the 
sands. 

The new comer gave a brief order, directing 
his slight luggage to be carried to the best 
inn, and, paying the boatmen liberally, strolled 
away to a more solitary part of the beach. "A 
gentleman," all the spectators decided him to 
be — and such a designation served for a full 
description of the new arrival to the villagers 



36 FALKNER. 

of Treby. But it were better to say a feu- 
words to draw him from among- a vast multi- 
tude who might be similarly named, and to 
bestow individuality on the person in ques- 
tion. It would be best so to present his ap- 
pearance and manner to the " mind's eye" of 
the reader, that if any met him by chance, he 
might exclaim, "That is the man!" Yet 
there is no task more difficult, than to con- 
vey to another, by mere words, an imaire, 
however distinctly it is impressed on our 
own minds. The individual expression, and 
peculiar traits, which cause a man to be 
recognized among ten thousand of his fel- 
low men, by one who has known him, 
though so palpable to the eye, escape when 
we would find words whereby to delineate 
them . 

There was something in the stranger that 
at once arrested attention — a freedom, and a 
command of manner — self-possession joined 
to energy. It might be difficult to guess his 



FALKNER. 37 

age, for his face had been exposed to the 
bronzing influence of a tropical climate, and 
the smoothness of youth was exchanged for 
the deeper lines of maturity, without any- 
thing being as yet taken from the vigour of 
the limbs, or the perfection of those portions 
of the frame and face, which so soon show 
marks of decay. He might have reached the 
verge of thirty, but he could not be older — 
and might be younger. His figure was active, 
sinewy and strong — upright as a soldier (in- 
deed a military air was diffused all over his 
person); he was tall, and, to a certain degree, 
handsome ; his dark grey eyes were piercing 
as an eagle's, and his forehead high and 
expansive, though somewhat distorted by 
various lines that spoke more of passion than 
thought ; yet his face was eminently intelligent ; 
his mouth, rather too large in its proportions, 
yet grew into beauty when he smiled — indeed, 
the remarkable trait of his physiognomy was 
its great variation — restless, and even fierce, 



38 FALKNER. 

the expression was often that of passionate 
and unquiet thoughts ; while at other times it 
was almost bland from the apparent smooth- 
ness and graceful undulation of the lines. It 
was singular, that when communing only with 
himself, storms appeared to shake his muscles, 
and disfigure the harmony of his countenance 
— and that when he addressed others, all was 
composed — full of meaning, and yet of repose. 
His complexion, naturally of an olive tint, 
had <rrown red and adust under the influence 
of climate — and often flushed from the inroads 
of vehement feeling. You could not doubt at 
the instant of seeing him, that many singular, 
perhaps tragical, incidents were attached to 
his history — but, conviction was enforced 
that he reversed the line of Shakspeare, and 
was less sinned against, than sinning — or, at 
least, that he had been the active machinator 
of his fate, not the passive recipient of disap- 
pointment and sorrow. When he believed him- 
self to be unobserved, his face worked with 



FALKNER. OV 

a thousand contending emotions, fiery glances 
shot from his eyes — he appeared to wince 
from sudden anguish — to be transported by a 
rage that changed his beauty into utter de- 
formity : was he spoken to, all these tokens 
vanished on the instant — dignified — calm, and 
even courteous, though cold, he would per- 
suade those whom he addressed that he was 
one of themselves — and not a being trans- 
ported by his own passions and actions into a 
sphere which every other human being would 
have trembled to approach. A superficial 
observer had pronounced him a good fellow, 
though a little too stately — a wise man had 
been pleased by the intelligence and informa- 
tion he displayed — the variety of his powers, 
and the ease with which he brought forward 
the stores of his intellect to enlighten any 
topic of discourse. An independent and a gal- 
lant spirit he surely had — what, then, had 
touched it with destruction — shaken it to ruin, 



40 FALKNER. 

and made him, while yet so young, abhorrent 
even to himself? 

Such is an outline of the stranger of Treby ; 
and his actions were in conformity with the 
incongruities of his appearance — outwardly 
unemployed and tranquil ; inwardly torn by 
throes of the most tempestuous and agonizing 
feelings. After landing he had strolled away, 
and was soon out of sight ; nor did he return 
till night, when he looked fatigued and de- 
pressed. For form's sake, — or for the sake 
of the bill at the inn, — he allowed food to be 
placed before him ; but he neither ate nor 
drank — soon he hurried to the solitude of his 
chamber — not to bed — he paced the room for 
some hours ; but as soon as all was still — 
when his watch and the quiet stars told him 
that it was midnight, he left the house — he 
wandered down to the beach — he threw him- 
self upon the sands — and then again he started 
up and strode along the verge of the tide — and 



FALKNER. 41 

then sitting down, covering* his face with 
his hands, remained motionless : early dawn 
found him thus — but, on the first appearance 
of a fisherman, he left the neighbourhood of 
the village, nor returned till the afternoon — 
and now when food was placed before him, 
he ate like one half famished ; but after the 
keen sensation of extreme hunger was satis- 
fied, he left the table and retired to his own 
room. 

Taking a case of pistols from his portman- 
teau, he examined the weapons with care, and, 
putting them in his pocket, walked out upon 
the sands. The sun was fast descending in the 
sky, and he looked, with varying glances, at 
it, and at the blue sea, which slumbered peace- 
fully, giving forth scarcely any sound, as it 
receded from the shore. Now he seemed 
wistful — now impatient — now struck by bit- 
terer pangs, that caused drops of agony to ga- 
ther on his brow. He spoke no word ; but these 
were the thoughts that hovered, though un- 



42 FALKNER. 

expressed, upon his lips: "Another day! 
Another sun ! Oh, never, never more for me 
shall day or sun exist. Coward ! Why feav 
to die! And do I fear? No ! no! I fear 
nothing but this pain — this unutterable an- 
guish — this image of fell despair ! If I could 
feel secure that memory would cease when my 
brain lies scattered on the earth, 1 should 
again feel joy before I die. Yet that is falsi . 
While I live, and memory lives, and the 
knowledge of my crime still creeps through 
every particle of my frame, 1 have a hell 
around me, even to the last pulsation ! For 
ever and for ever I see her, lost and dead at 
my feet — I the cause — the murderer! My 
death shall atone. And yet even in death the 
curse is on me — I cannot give back the breath 
of life to her sweet pale lips ! O fool ! O vil- 
lain ! Haste to the last act ; linger no more, 
lest you grow mad, and fetters and stripes 
become your fitter punishment than the death 
vou covet ! " 



FALKNER. 43 

" Yet," — after a pause, his thoughts thus 
continued : — " not here, nor now : there must 
be darkness on the earth before the deed is 
done ! Hasten and hide thyself, O sun ! Thou 
wilt never be cursed by the sight of my living 
form again ! " 

Thus did the transport of passion embrace 
the universe in its grasp ; and the very sun- 
light seemed to have a pulse responsive to his 
own. The bright orb sunk lower; and the 
little western promontory, with its crowning 
spire, was thrown into bold relief against the 
glowing sky. As if some new idea were 
awakened, the stranger proceeded along the 
sands, towards the extremity of the headland. 
A short time before, unobserved by him, the 
little orphan had tripped along, and, scaling 
the cliff, had seated herself, as usual, beside 
her mother's grave. 

The stranger proceeded slowly, and with 
irregular steps. He was waiting till darkness 
should blind the eyes of day, which now ap- 



44 FALKNER. 

peared to gaze on him with intolerable scru- 
tiny, and to read his very soul, that sickened 
and writhed with its burthen of sin and sor- 
row. When out of the immediate neighbour- 
hood of the village, he threw himself upon a 
fragment of rock, and — he could not be said 
to meditate — for that supposes some sort of 
voluntary action of the mind — while to him 
might be applied the figure of the poet, who 
represented himself as hunted by his own 
thoughts — pursued by memory, and torn to 
pieces, as Actseon by his own hounds. A 
troop of horrid recollections assailed his soul : 
there was no shelter, no escape ! various pas- 
sions, by turns, fastened themselves upon 
him — jealousy, disappointed love, rage, fear, 
and last and worst, remorse and despair. No 
bodily torture, invented by revengeful tyrant, 
could produce agony equal to that which he 
had worked out for his own mind. His better 
nature, and the powers of his intellect, served 
but to sharpen and strike deeper the pangs of 



FALKNER. 45 

unavailing regret. Fool! He had foreseen 
nothing of all this ! He had fancied that he 
could bend the course of fate to his own will ; 
and that to desire with energy was to insure 
success. And to what had the immutable 
resolve to accomplish his ends brought him I 
She was dead — the loveliest and best of created 
beings : torn from the affections and the plea- 
sures of life ! from her home, her child ! 
He had seen her stretched dead at his feet : 
he had heaped the earth upon her clay-cold 
form ; — and he the cause ! he the murderer! 

Stung to intolerable anguish by these ideas, 
he felt hastily for his pistols, and rising, pur- 
sued his way. Evening was closing in; yet 
he could distinguish the winding path of the 
cliff: he ascended, opened the little gate, 
and entered the church-yard. Oh! how he 
envied the dead! — the guiltless dead, who had 
closed their eyes on this mortal scene, sur- 
rounded by weeping friends, cheered by reli- 
gious hope. All that imaged innocence and 



46 FALKNER. 

repose, appeared in his eyes so beautiful and 
desirable: and how could he, the criminal, 
hope to rest like one of these? A star or two 
came oat in the heavens above, and the church 
spire seemed almost to reach them, as it 
pointed upwards. The dim, silent sea was 
spread beneath : the dead slept around : 
scarcely did the tall grass bend its head to the 
summer air. Soft, balmy peace possessed the 
scene. With what thrilling sensations of self- 
enjoyment and gratitude to the Creator, might 
the mind at ease drink in the tranquil loveli- 
ness of such an hour. The stranger felt every 
nerve wakened to fresh anguish. His brow 
contracted convulsively. " Shall I ever die !" 
he cried ; " Will not the dead reject me!" 

He looked round with the natural instinct 
that leads a human being, at the moment of 
dissolution, to withdraw into a cave or corner, 
where least to offend the eyes of the living by 
the loathsome form of death. The ivyed wall 
and paling, overhung by trees, formed a nook, 



FALKNER. 4/ 

whose shadow at that hour was becoming 
deep. He approached the spot ; for a mo- 
ment he stood looking afar : he knew not at 
what ; and drew forth his pistol, cocked it, 
and, throwing himself on the grassy mound, 
raised the mouth of the fatal instrument to 
his forehead. " Oh go away I go away from 
mamma!" were words that might have met 
his ear, but that every sense was absorbed. 
As he drew the trigger, his arm was pulled ; 
the ball whizzed harmlessly by his ear : but 
the shock of the sound, the unconsciousness 
that he had been touched at that moment— 
the belief that the mortal wound was given, 
made him fall back ; and, as he himself said 
afterwards, he fancied that he had uttered the 
scream be heard, which had, indeed, pro- 
ceeded from other lips. 

In a few seconds he recovered himself. Yet 
so had he worked up his mind to die ; so im- 
possible did it appear that his aim should fail 
him, that in those few seconds, the earth and 



48 FALKNER. 

all belonging to it had passed away- and his 
first exclamation, as he started up, was, "Where 
am I !" Something caught his gaze ; a little 
white figure, which lay but a few paces dis- 
tant, and two eyes that gleamed on him — the 
horrible thought darted into his head — had 
another instead of himself been the victim ? 
and he exclaimed in agony, " Gracious God ! 
who are you ? — speak ! What have I done ! " 
Still more was he horror-struck when he saw 
that it was a little child who lay before him — 
he raised her — but her eyes had glared with 
terror, not death ; she did not speak ; but she 
w r as not wounded, and he endeavoured to com- 
fort and re-assure her, till she, a little restored, 
began to cry bitterly, and he felt, thankfully, 
that her tears were a pledge that the worst 
consequences of her fright had passed away. 
He lifted her from the ground, while she, in 
the midst of her tears, tried to get him away 
from the grave he desecrated. The twilight 
scarcely showed her features ; but her sur- 



FALKNER. 49 

passing fairness — her lovely countenance and 
silken hair, so betokened a child of love and 
care, that he was the more surprised to find 
her alone, at that hour, in the solitary church- 
yard. 

He soothed her gently, and asked, " How 
came you here ? what could you be doing so 
late, so far from home ? " 

" I came to see mamma." 

" To see mamma ! Where ? how ? Your 
mother is not here." 

" Yes, she is ; mamma is there ;" and she 
pointed with her little finger to the grave. 

The stranger started up — there was some- 
thing awful in this childish simplicity and af- 
fection : he tried to read the inscription on the 
stone near — he could just make out the name 
of Edwin Raby. " That is not your mother's 
grave," he said. 

" No ; papa is there — mamma is here, next 
to him." 

The man, just bent on self-destruction, with 

VOL. I. d 



50 FALKNER. 

a conscience burning him to the hearts core — 
all concentrated in the omnipotence of his own 
sensations — shuddered at the tale of derelic- 
tion and misery these words conveyed ; he 
looked earnestly on the child, and was fas- 
cinated by her angel look ; she spoke with a 
pretty seriousness, shaking her head, her lips 
trembling — her large eyes shining in brim- 
ming tears. " My poor child," he said, " your 
name is Raby, then ?" 

" Mamma used to call me Baby," she re- 
plied ; "they call me Missy at home — my 
name is Elizabeth." 

" Well, dear Elizabeth, let me take you 
home ; you cannot stay all night with mamma." 

" no; I was just going home, when you 
frightened me." 

" You must forget that; I will buy you a 
doll to make it up again, and all sorts of toys; 
— see, here is a pretty thing for you!" and he 
took the chain of his watch, and threw it over 
her head ; he wanted so to distract her atten- 



PALKNER. 51 

tion, as to make her forget what had passed, 
and not to tell a shocking story when she got 
home. 

" But," she said, looking up into his face, 
'" you will not be so naughty again, and sit 
down where mamma is lying.' 3 

The stranger promised, and kissed her, and, 
taking her hand, they walked together to the 
village; she prattled as she went, and he some- 
times listened to her stories of mamma, and an- 
swered, and sometimes thought with wonder 
that he still lived — that the ocean's tide still 
broke at his feet — and the stars still shone 
above ; he felt angry and impatient at the 
delay, as if it betokened a failing of purpose. 
They walked along the sands, and stopped at 
last at Mrs. Baker's door. She was standing 
at it, and exclaimed, " Here you are, Missy, 
at last! What have you been doing with 
yourself? I declare I was quite frightened — 
it is long past your bed-time." 

" You must not scold her," said the stran- 

d2 



52 FALKNER. 

ger ; " I detained her. But why do you let 
her go out alone ? it is not right." 

" Lord, sir," she replied, "there is none 
hereabouts to do her a harm — and she would 
not thank me if I kept her from going to see 
her mamma, as she calls it. I have no one to 
spare to go with her; it's hard enough on me to 
keep her on charity, as I do. But," — and her 
voice changed, as a thought flashed across her, 
— " I beg your pardon, sir, perhaps you come 
for Missy, and know all about her. I am sure 
I have done all I can ; it's a long time since 
her mamma died ; and, but for me, she must 
have gone to the parish. I hope you will judge 
that I have done my duty towards her." 

" You mistake," said the stranger ; "I 
know nothing of this young lady, nor of her 
parents, who, it would seem, are both dead. 
Of course she has other relations?" 

" That she has, and rich ones too," replied 
Mrs. Baker, " if one could but find them out. 
It's hard upon me, who am a widow woman, 



FALKNER. 53 

with four children of my own, to have other 
people's upon me — very hard, sir, as you must 
allow ; and often I think that I cannot answer 
it to myself, taking the bread from my own 
children and grandchildren, to feed a stranger. 
But, to be sure, Missy has rich relations, and 
some day they will inquire for her; though 
come the tenth of next August, and it's a year 
since her mother died, and no one has come 
to ask good or bad about her, or Missy." 

" Her father died also in this village ?" 
asked the stranger. 

" True enough," said the woman ; " both 
father and mother died in this very house, and 
lie up in the church-yard yonder. Come, Missy, 
don't cry ; that's an old story now, and it's no 
use fretting." 

The poor child, who had hitherto listened 
in simple ignorance, began to sob at this 
mention of her parents ; and the stranger, 
shocked by the woman's unfeeling tone, said, 
" I should like to hear more of this sad story. 



54 FALKNER. 

Pray let the poor dear child be put to bed, and 
then if you will relate what you know of her 
parents, I dare say I can give you some ad- 
vice, to enable you to discover her relations, 
and relieve you from the burthen of her main- 
tenance." 

" These are the first comfortable words I 
have heard a long time," said Mrs. Baker. 
" Come, Missy, Nancy shall put you to bed; 
it's far past your hour. Don't cry, dear ; this 
kind gentleman will take you along with him, 
to a fine house, among grand folks, and all 
our troubles will be over. Be pleased, sir, to 
step into the parlour, and I will show you a 
letter of the lady, and tell you all I know. I 
dare say, if you are going to London, you will 
find out that Missy ought to be riding in her 
coach at this very moment." 

This was a golden idea of Mrs. Baker, and, 
in truth, went a little beyond her anticipations ; 
but she had got tired of her first dreams of 
greatness, and feared that, in sad truth, the 



FALKNER. 55 

little orphan's relations would entirely disown 
her ; but it struck her that if she could per- 
suade this strange gentleman that all she said 
was true, he might be induced to take the 
little girl with him, when he went away, and 
undertake the task of restoring her to her 
father's family, by which means she at least 
would be released from all further care on her 
account : — " Upon this hint she spake." 

She related how Mr. and Mrs. Raby had 
arrived with their almost infant child — death 
already streaked the brow of the dying man ; 
each day threatened to be his last; yet he 
lived on. His sufferings were great ; and 
night and day his wife was at his side, waiting 
on him, watching each turn of his eye, each 
change of complexion, or of pulse. They 
were poor, and had only one servant, hired at 
the village soon after their arrival, when Mrs. 
Raby found herself unable to bestow adequate 
attention on both husband and child ; yet she 
did so much as evidently to cause her to sink 



56 FALKNER. 

beneath her too great exertions. She was 
delicate and fragile in appearance ; but she 
never owned to being fatigued, or relaxed in 
her attentions. Her voice was always attuned 
to cheerfulness, her eyes beaming with ten- 
derness ; she, doubtless, wept in secret; but 
when conversing with her husband, or play- 
ing with her child, a natural vivacity animated 
her, that looked like hope; indeed, it was 
certain that, in spite of every fatal symptom, 
she did not wholly despair. When her hus- 
band declared himself better, and resumed for 
a day his task of instructor to his little girl, 
she believed that his disorder had taken a 
favourable turn, and would say, " O, Mrs. 
Baker, please God, he is really better ; doc- 
tors are not infallible ; he may live !" And as 
she spoke, her eyes swam in tears, while a 
smile lay like a sunbeam on her features. She 
did not sink till her husband died, and even 
then struggled, both with her grief and the 
wasting malady already at work within her, 



FALKNER. 57 

with a fortitude a mother only could practise ; 
for all her exertions were for her dear child ; 
and she could smile on her, a wintry smile — 
yet sweet as if warmed by seraphic faith and 
love. She lingered thus, hovering on the 
very limits of life and death ; her heart warm 
and affectionate, and hoping, and full of fire 
to the end, for her child's sake, while she her- 
self pined for the freedom of the grave, and to 
soar from the cares and sorrows of a sordid 
world, to the heaven already open to receive 
her. In homely phrase, Mrs. Baker dwelt 
upon this touching mixture of maternal ten- 
derness and soft languor, that would not mourn 
for him she was so soon to join. The woman 
then described her sudden death, and placed 
the fragment of her last letter before her 
auditor. 

Deeply interested, the stranger began to 
read, when suddenly he became ghastly pale, 
and, trembling all over, he asked, " To whom 
was this letter addressed ?" 

d3 



58 FALKNER. 

" Ah, sir," replied Mrs. Baker, " would 
that I could tell, and all my troubles would 
be over. Read on, sir, and you will see that 
Mrs. Raby feels sure that the lady would have 
been a mother to poor Missy ; but who, or 
where she is, is past all my guessing." 

The stranger strove to read on, but violent 
emotion, and the struggle to hide what he felt, 
hindered him from taking in the meaning of a 
single word. At length he told Mrs. Baker, 
that, with her leave, he would take the letter 
away, and read it at his leisure. He pro- 
mised her his aid in discovering Miss Raby's 
relatives, and assured her that there would be 
small difficulty in so doing. He then retired, 
and Mrs. Baker exclaimed, " Please God, this 
will prove a good day's work." 

A voice from the grave had spoken to the 
stranger. It was not the dead mother's voice 
— she, whatever her merits and sufferings had 
been, was to him an image of the mind only 
—he had never known her. But her bene- 



FALKNER. 59 

factress, her hope and trust, who and where 
was she? Alithea! the warm-hearted friend — 
the incomparable mother ! She to whom all 
hearts in distress turned, sure of relief — 
who went before the desires of the necessi- 
tous ; whose generous and free spirit made 
her empress of all hearts ; who, while she 
lived, spread, as does the sun, radiance and 
warmth around — her pulses were stilled ; her 
powers cribbed up in the grave. She was 
nothing now; and he had reduced to this 
nothing the living frame of this glorious 
being. 

The stranger read the letter again and 
again; again he writhed, as her name ap- 
peared, traced by her friend's delicate hand, 
and the concluding hope seemed the acme of 
his despair. She would indeed have been a 
mother to the orphan — he remembered ex- 
pressions that told him that she was making 
diligent inquiry for her friend, whose luckless 



60 FALKNER, 

fate had not readied her. Yes, it was his 
Alithea; he could not doubt. His? Fatal 
mistake — his she had never been ; and the 
wild resolve to make her such, had ended in 
death and ruin. 

The stranger had taken the letter to his inn 
— but any roof seemed to imprison and oppress 
him — again he sought relief in the open air, 
and wandered far along the sands, with the 
speed of a misery that strove to escape from 
itself. The whole night he spent thus — some- 
times climbing the jagged cliffs, then descend- 
ing to the beach, and throwing himself his 
length upon the sands. The tide ebbed and 
flowed — the roar of ocean filled the lone night 
with sound — the owl flapped down from its 
home in the rock> and hooted. Hour after 
hour passed, — and, driven by a thousand 
thoughts — tormented by the direst pangs of 
memory — still the stranger hurried along 
the winding shores. Morning found him 



FALKNER. 61 

many miles from Treby. He did not stop 
till the appearance of another village put a 
limit to solitude, and he returned upon his 
steps. 

Those who could guess his crime, could 
alone divine the combat of life and death 
waging in his heart. He had, through acci- 
dent and forgetfulness, left his pistols on the 
table of his chamber at the inn, or, in some of 
the wildest of the paroxysms of despair, they 
had ended all. To die, he fondly hoped, was 
to destroy memory and to defeat remorse ; and 
yet there arose within his mind that feeling, 
mysterious and inexplicable to common rea- 
son, which generates a desire to expiate and 
to atone. Should he be the cause of good to 
the friendless orphan, bequeathed so vainly to 
his victim, would not that, in some sort, com- 
pensate for his crime ? Would it not double it 
to have destroyed her, and also the good of 
which she would have been the author ? The 



62 FALKNER. 

very finger of God pointed to this act, since 
the child's little hand had arrested his arm 
at the fatal moment when he believed that no 
interval of a second's duration intervened be- 
tween him and the grave. Then to aid those 
dim religious misgivings, came the manly 
wish to protect the oppressed, and assist the 
helpless. The struggle was long and ter- 
rible. Now he made up his mind that it was 
cowardice to postpone his resolve — that to 
live was to stamp himself poltroon and traitor. 
And now again, he felt that the true cowar- 
dice was to die — to fly from the consequences 
of his actions, and the burthen of existence. 
He gazed upon the dim waste of waters, as if 
from its misty skirt some vision would arise 
to guide or to command. He cast his eyes 
upward to interrogate the silent stars — the 
roaring of the tide appeared to assume an 
inorganic voice, and to murmur hoarsely, 
" Live! miserable wretch! Dare you hope 



FALKNER. 63 

for the repose which your victim enjoys? 
Know that the guilty are unworthy to die — 
that is the reward of innocence!" 

The cool air of morning chilled his brow ; 
and the broad sun arose from the eastern sea, 
as, pale and haggard, he re-trod many a weary 
step towards Treby. He was faint and weary. 
He had resolved to live yet a little longer — till 
he had fulfilled some portion of his duty to- 
wards the lovely orphan. So resolving, he felt 
as if he paid a part of the penalty due. A 
soothing feeling, which resembled repentance, 
stole over his heart, already rewarding him. 
How swiftly and audibly does the inner voice 
of our nature speak, telling us when we do 
right. Besides, he believed that to live was 
to suffer ; to live, therefore, was in him a 
virtue ; and the exultation, the balmy intoxi- 
cation which always follows our first attempt 
to execute a virtuous resolve, crept over him, 
and elevated his spirits, though body and 
soul were alike weary. Arriving at Treby, 



64 FALKNER. 

he sought his bed. He slept peacefully ; and 
it was the first slumber he had enjoyed since 
he had torn himself from the spot where she 
lay, whom he had loved so truly, even to 
the death to which he had brought her. 



FALKNER. 65 



CHAPTER IV. 



Two days after, the stranger and the orphan 
had departed for London. When it came to 
the point of decision, Mrs Baker's conscience 
began to reproach her ; and she doubted the 
propriety of intrusting her innocent charge to 
one totally unknown. But the stranger satis- 
fied her doubts ; he showed her papers betoken- 
ing his name and station, as John Falkner, 
Captain in the Native Cavalry of the East 
India Company, and moreover possessed of 
such an independence as looked like wealth 
in the eyes of Mrs. Baker, and at once com- 
manded her respect. 



66 FALKNER. 

His own care was to collect every testimony 
and relic that might prove the identity of the 
little Elizabeth. Her unfortunate mother's 
unfinished letter — her Bible and prayer-book 
— in the first of which was recorded the birth 
of her child — and a seal, (which Mrs. Baker's 
prudence had saved, when her avarice caused 
her to sell the watch,) with Mr. Raby's coat of 
arms and crest engraved — a small desk, con- 
taining a few immaterial papers, and letters 
from strangers, addressed to Edwin Raby — 
such was Elizabeth's inheritance. In looking 
over the desk, Mr. Falkner found a little 
foreign almanac, embellished with prints, and 
fancifully bound — on the first page of which 
was written, in a woman's elegant hand, 
To dearest Isabella — -from her A. R. 

Had Falkner wanted proof as to the reality 
of his suspicions with regard to the friend of 
Mrs. Raby, here was conviction ; he was about 
to press the dear hand-writing to his lips, 
when, feeling his own unworthiness, he shud- 



FALKNER. 67 

dered through every limb, and thrusting the 
book into his bosom, he, by a strong effort, 
prevented every outward mark of the thrilling 
agony which the sight of his victim's writing 
occasioned. It gave, at the same time, fresh 
firmness to his resolve to do all that was re- 
quisite to restore the orphan daughter of her 
friend to her place in society. She was, as a 
bequest, left him by her whom he last saw 
pale and senseless at his feet — who had been 
the dream of his life from boyhood, and was 
now the phantom to haunt him with remorse 
to his latest hour. To replace the dead to the 
lovely child was impossible. He knew the in- 
comparable virtues of her to whom her mother 
bequeathed her, while every thought that 
tended to recall her to his memory was armed 
with a double sting — regret at having lost- 
horror at the fate he had brought upon her. 

By what strange, incalculable, and yet sure 
enchainment of events had he been brought 
to supply her place ! She was dead — through 



68 FALKNER. 

his accursed machinations she no longer 
formed a portion of the breathing world — how 
marvellous that he, flying from memory and 
conscience, resolved to expiate his half in- 
voluntary guilt by his own death, should have 
landed at Treby ! Still more wondrous were 
the motives — hair-slight in appearance, yet 
on which so vast a weight of circumstance 
hung — that led him to the twilight church- 
yard, and had made Mrs. Raby's grave the 
scene of the projected tragedy — which had 
brought the orphan to guard that grave from 
pollution, caused her to stay his upraised 
hand, and gained for herself a protector by 
the very act. 

Whoever has been the victim of a tragic 
event — whoever has experienced life and hope 
— the past and the future wrecked by one fatal 
catastrophe, must be at once dismayed and 
awestruck to trace the secret agency of a thou- 
sand foregone, disregarded, and trivial events, 
which all led to the deplored end, and served, 



PALKNER. 69 

as it were, as invisible meshes to envelop the 
victim in the fatal net. Had the meanest 
among these been turned aside, the progress 
of the destroying destiny had been stopped ; but 
there is no voice to cry " Hold !" no prophesy- 
ing eye to discern the unborn event — and the 
future inherits its whole portion of woe. 

Awed by the mysteries that encompassed 
and directed his steps, which used no agency 
except the unseen, but not unfelt, power which 
surrounds us with motive, as with an atmo- 
sphere, Falkner yielded his hitherto unbending 
mind to control. He was satisfied to be led, 
and not to command ; his impatient spirit won- 
dered at this new docility, while yet he felt 
some slight self-satisfaction steal over him; 
and the prospect of being useful to the help- 
less little being who stood before him, weak 
in all except her irresistible claim to his aid, 
imparted such pleasure as he was surprised to 
feel. 

Once again he visited the church-yard of 



70 FALKNER. 

Treby, accompanied by the orphan. She was 
loath to quit the spot — she could with difficulty 
consent to leave mamma. But Mrs. Baker 
had made free use of a grown-up person'^ 
much abused privilege of deceit, and told her 
lies in abundance ; sometimes promising that 
she should soon return ; sometimes assuring 
that she would find her mother alive and well 
at the grand place whither she was going : 
yet, despite the fallacious hopes, she cried and 
sobbed bitterly during her last visits to her 
parents' graves. Falkner tried to soothe her, 
saying, u We must leave papa and mamma, 
dearest ; God has taken them from you ; but 
I will be a new papa to you." 

The child raised her head, which she had 
buried in his breast, and in infantine dialect 
and accent, said, " Will you be good to her, 
and love Baby, as papa did ?" 

" Yes, dearest child, I promise always to 
love you : will you love me, and call me your 
papa ?" 



FALKNER. 71 

" Papa, dear papa," she cried, clinging 
round his neck — " My new, good papa!" And 
then whispering in his ear, she softly, but 
seriously, added, " I can't have a new mamma 
— I won't have any but my own mamma." 

: ' No, pretty one," said Falkner, with a sigh, 
" you will never have another mamma ; she is 
gone who would have been a second mother, 
and you are wholly orphaned." 

An hour after they were on the road to 
London, and, full of engrossing and torturing 
thoughts as Falkner was, still he was called 
out of himself and forced to admire the win- 
ning ways, the enchanting innocence, and love- 
liness of his little charge. We human beings 
are so unlike one to the other, that it is often 
difficult to make one person understand that 
there is any force in an impulse which is omni- 
potent with another. Children, to some, are 
mere animals, unendued with instinct, trou- 
blesome, and unsightly — with others they pos- 
sess a charm that reaches to the heart's core, 



72 FALKNER. 

and stirs the purest and most generous por- 
tions of our nature. Falkner had always loved 
children. In the Indian wilds, which for 
many years he had inhabited, the sight of a 
young native mother, with her babe, had 
moved him to envious tears. The fair, fragile 
offspring of European women, with blooming 
faces and golden hair, had often attracted him 
to bestow kind offices on parents, whom other- 
wise he would have disregarded ; the fiery 
passions of his own heart caused him to feel a 
soothing repose, while watching the innocent 
gambols of childhood, while his natural 
energy, which scarcely ever found sufficient 
scope for exercise, led him to delight in pro- 
tecting the distressed. If the mere chance 
spectacle of infant helplessness was wont to 
excite his sympathy, this sentiment, by the 
natural workings of the human heart, became 
far more lively when so beautiful and perfect 
a creature as Elizabeth Raby was thrown upon 
his protection. No one could have regarded 



FALKNER. 73 

her unmoved ; her silver-toned laugh went to 
the heart ; her alternately serious or gay 
looks, each emanating from the spirit of love; 
her caresses, her little words of endearment; 
the soft pressure of her tiny hand and warm, 
rosy lips, — were all as charming as beauty, 
and the absence of guile, could make them. 
And he, the miserable man, was charmed, 
and pitied the mother who had been forced to 
desert so sweet a flower — leaving to the bleak 
elements a blossom which it had been paradise 
for her to have cherished and sheltered in her 
own bosom for ever. 

At each moment Falkner became more en- 
chanted with his companion. Sometimes they 
got out of the chaise to walk up a hill ; then 
taking the child in his arms, he plucked flow- 
ers for her from the hedges, or she ran on be- 
fore and gathered them for herself — now pull- 
ing ineffectually at some stubborn parasite — 
now pricking herself with briar, when his 
help was necessary to assist and make all 

VOL. I. E 



74 FALKNER. 

well again. When again in the carriage she 
climbed on his knee and stuck the flowers in 
his hair " to make papa fine;" and as trifles 
affect the mind when rendered sensitive by 
suffering, so was he moved by her trying to 
remove the thorns of the wild roses before she 
decorated him with them ; at other times she 
twisted them among her own ringlets, and 
laughed to see herself mirrored in the front 
glasses of the chaise. Sometimes her mood 
changed, and she prattled seriously about 
" mamma." Asked if he did not think that 
she was sorry at Baby's going so far — far 
away — or, remembering the fanciful talk of 
her mother, when her father died, she asked, 
whether she were not following them through 
the air. As evening closed in, she looked 
out to see whether she could not perceive 
her ; " I cannot hear her ; she does not speak 
to me," she said ; " perhaps she is a long way 
off, in that tiny star ; but then she can see us — 
Are you there, mamma?" 



FALKNER. 75 

Artlessness and beauty are more truly 
imaged on the canvass than in the written 
page. Were we to see the lovely orphan thus 
pictured (and Italian artists, and our own Rey- 
nolds, have painted such), with uplifted finger ; 
her large earnest eyes looking inquiringly 
and tenderly for the shadowy form of her 
mother, as she might fancy it descending 
towards her from the little star her childish 
fancy singled out, a half smile on her lips, 
contrasted with the seriousness of her baby 
brow — if we could see such visibly presented 
on the canvass, the world would crowd round 
to admire. This pen but feebly traces the 
living grace of the little angel ; but it was 
before Falkner; it stirred him to pity first, 
and then to deeper regret : he strained the 
child to his breast, thinking, " O, yes, I 
might have been a better and a happy man ! 
False Alithea ! why, through your incon- 
stancy, are such joys buried for ever in your 
grave ! " 

e 2 



76 



FALKNER. 



A few minutes after and the little girl fell 
asleep, nestled in his arms. Her attitude had 
all the inartificial grace of childhood ; her 
face hushed to repose, yet breathed of affec- 
tion. Falkner turned his eyes from her to the 
starry sky. His heart swelled impatiently — 
his past life lay as a map unrolled before him. 
He had desired a peaceful happiness — the 
happiness of love. His fond aspirations had 
been snakes to destroy others, and to sting 
his own soul to torture. He writhed under 
the consciousness of the remorse and horror 
which were henceforth to track his path of 
life. Yet, even while he shuddered, he felt 
that a revolution was operating within him- 
self — he no longer contemplated suicide. 
That which had so lately appeared a mark of 
courage, wore now the guise of cowardice. 
And yet, if he were to live, where and how 
should his life be passed ? He recoiled from 
the solitude of the heart which had marked 
his early years — and yet he felt that he could 



FALKNER. 77 

never more link himself in love or friendship 
to any. 

He looked upon the sleeping child, and be- 
gan to conjecture whether he might not find 
in her the solace he needed. Should he not 
adopt her, mould her heart to affection, teach 
her to lean on him only, be all the world to 
her, while her gentleness and caresses would 
give life a charm — without which it were vain 
to attempt to endure existence ? 

He reflected what Elizabeth's probable fate 
would be if he restored her to her father's 
family. Personal experience had given him a 
horror for the forbidding, ostentatious kind- 
ness of distant relations. That hers resembled 
such as he had known, and were imperious and 
cold-hearted, their conduct not only to Mrs. 
Raby, but previously to a meritorious son, did 
not permit him to doubt. If he made the 
orphan over to them, their luxuries and station 
would ill stand instead of affection and heart- felt 
kindness. Soft, delicate, and fond, she would 



78 FALKNER. 

pine and die. With him, on the contrary, 
she would be happy — he would devote him- 
self to her — every wish gratified — her gentle 
disposition carefully cultivated — no rebuke, no 
harshness ; his arms ever open to receive her 
in grief — his hand to support her in danger. 
Was not this a fate her mother would have 
preferred ? In bequeathing her to her friend, 
she showed how little she wished that her 
sweet girl should pass into the hands of her 
husband's relations. Could he not replace that 
friend of whom he had cruelly robbed her — 
whose loss was to be attributed to him alone ? 
We all are apt to think that when we dis- 
card a motive we cure a fault, and foster the 
same error from a new cause with a safe con- 
science. Thus, even now, aching and sore 
from the tortures of remorse for past faults, 
Falkner indulged in the same propensity, which, 
apparently innocent in its commencement, had 
led to fatal results. He meditated doing rather 
what he wished, than what was strictly just. He 



FALKNER. i\) 

did not look forward to the evils his own course 
involved, while he saw in disproportionate 
magnitude those to he Drought about if he 
gave up his favourite project. What ills might 
arise to the orphan from his interweaving her 
fate with his — he, a criminal, in act, if not 
in intention — who might be called upon here- 
after to answer for his deeds, and who at least 
must fly and hide himself — of this he thought 
not ; while he determined, that, fostered and 
guarded by him, Elizabeth must be happy — 
and, under the tutelage of her relations, she 
would become the victim of hardhearted neg- 
lect. These ideas floated somewhat indis- 
tinctly in his mind — and it was half uncon- 
sciously that he was building from them a fabric 
for the future, as deceitful as it was alluring. 

After several days' travelling, Falkner found 
himself with his young charge in London, and 
then he began to wonder wherefore he had 
repaired thither, and to consider that he must 
form some settled scheme for the future. He 



80 FALKNER. 

had in England neither relation nor friend 
whom he cared for. Orphaned at an early 
age, neglected by those who supported him, 
at least as far as the affections were concerned, 
he had, even in boyhood, known intimately, and 
loved but one person only — she who had ruled 
his fate to this hour — and was now among the 
dead. Sent to India in early youth, he had 
there to make his way in defiance of poverty, 
of want of connexion, of his own overbearing 
disposition — and the sense of wrong early 
awakened, that made him proud and reserved. 
At last, most unexpectedly, the death of 
several relations caused the family estate to 
devolve upon him — and he had sold his com- 
mission in India and hastened home — with 
his heart so set upon one object, that he 
scarcely reflected, or reflected only to congra- 
tulate himself, on how alone he stood. And 
now that his impetuosity and ill-regulated 
passions had driven the dear object of all his 
thoughts to destruction — still he was glad 



FALKNER. 81 

that there were none to question him — none 
to wonder at his resolves ; to advise or to 
reproach . 

Still a plan was necessary. The very act 
of his life which had been so big with ruin 
and remorse enjoined some forethought. It 
was probable that he was already suspected, if 
not known. Detection and punishment in a 
shape most loathsome would overtake him, 
did he not shape his measures with prudence ; 
and, as hate as well as love had mixed strongly 
in his motives, he was in no humour to give his 
enemies the triumph of visiting his crime on 
him. 

What is written in glaring character in our 
own consciousness, we believe to be visible to 
the whole world ; and Falkner, after arriving in 
London, after leaving Elizabeth at an hotel, 
and walking into the streets, felt as if discovery 
was already on him, when he was accosted by 
an acquaintance, who asked him where he had 
been — what he had been doing — and why he was 

e 3 



82 FALKNER. 

looking so deucedly ill ? He stammered some 
reply, and was hastening away, when his friend, 
passing his arm through his, said, " I must 
tell you of the strangest occurrence I ever 
heard of — I have just parted from a man — do 
you remember a Mr. Neville, whom you dined 
with at my house, when last in town?" 

Falkner, at this moment, exercised with 
success the wonderful mastery which he pos- 
sessed over feature and voice, and coldly re- 
plied that he did remember. 

" And do you remember our conversation 
after he left us?" said his friend, "and my 
praises of his wife, who I exalted as the pattern 
of virtue ? Who can know women ! I could 
have bet any sum that she would have pre- 
served her good name to the end — and she 
has eloped." 

14 Well !" said Falkner, "is that all?— is that 
the most wonderful circumstance ever heard?" 

" Had you known Mrs. Neville," replied 
his companion, " you would be as astonished 



FALKNER. 83 

as I : with all her charms — all her vivacity — 
never had the breath of scandal reached her — 
she seemed one of those whose hearts, though 
warm, are proof against the attacks of love ; 
and with ardent affections yet turn away from 
passion, superior and unharmed. Yet she has 
eloped with a lover — there is no doubt of that 
fact, for he was seen — they were seen going 
oft* together, and she has not been heard of 
since." 

" Did Mr. Neville pursue them?" asked 
Falkner. 

" He is even now in full pursuit — vowing 
vengeance — more enraged than I ever beheld 
man. Unfortunately he does not know who 
the seducer is ; nor have the fugitives yet been 
traced. The whole affair is the most myste- 
rious — a lover dropped from the clouds — an 
angel of virtue subdued, almost before she is 
sought. Still they must be found out — -they 
cannot hide themselves for ever." 



84 FALKNER. 

"And then there will be a duel to the death ?" 
asked Falkner, in the same icy accents. 

" No," replied the other. " Mrs. Neville 
has no brother to fight for her, and her 
husband breathes law only. Whatever ven- 
geance the law will afford, that he will use to 
the utmost — he is too angry to fight." 

" The poltroon !" exclaimed Falkner, " and 
thus he loses his sole chance of revenge." 

" I know not that," replied his companion; 
" he has formed a thousand schemes of chas- 
tisement for both offenders, more dread than 
the field of honour — there is, to be sure, a 
mean as well as an indignant spirit in him, 
that revels rather in the thought of inflicting 
infamy than death. He utters a thousand 
mysterious threats — I do not see exactly what 
he can do — but when he discovers his injurer, 
as he must some day — and I believe there are 
letters that afford a clue, — he will wreak all 
that a savage, and yet a sordid desire of ven- 



FALKNER. 85 

geance can suggest. — Poor Mrs. Neville! — 
after all, she must have lived a sad life with 
such a fellow !" 

" And here we part," said Falkner ; " I am 
going another way. You have told me a 
strange story — it will be curious to mark the 
end. Farewell!" 

Brave to rashness as Falkner was, yet there 
was much in what he had just heard that made 
him recoil, and almost tremble. What the 
vengeance was that Mr. Neville could take — - 
he too well knew — and he resolved to defeat 
it. His plans, before vague, were formed on 
the instant. His lip curled with a disdainful 
smile when he recollected what his friend had 
said of the mystery that hung over the late 
occurrences— he would steep them all in ten- 
fold obscurity. To grieve for the past was 
futile, or rather, nothing he could do, would 
prevent or alleviate the piercing regret that 
tortured him — but that need not influence his 
conduct. To leave his arch enemy writhing 



86 FALKNER. 

from injury, yet powerless to revenge himself — 
blindly cursing he knew not who, and remov- 
ing the object of his curses from all danger 
of being hurt by them, was an image not 
devoid of satisfaction. Acting in conformity 
with these ideas, the next morning saw him 
on the road to Dover — Elizabeth still his com- 
panion, resolved to seek oblivion in foreign 
countries and far climes — and happy, at the 
same time, to have her with him, whose infan- 
tine caresses already poured balm upon his 
rankling wounds. 



FALKNER. 



87 



CHAPTER V. 



Paris was the next, but transient, resting- 
place of the travellers. Here Falkner made 
such arrangements with regard to remittances, 
as he believed would best insure his scheme of 
concealment. He laid the map of Europe 
before him, and traced a course with his 
pencil, somewhat erratic, yet not without a 
plan. Paris, Hamburgh, Stockholm, St. Pe- 
tersburgh, Moscow, Odessa, Constantinople, 
through Hungary to Vienna. How many thou- 
sand miles ! miles — which while he traversed, 
he could possess his soul in freedom — fear 



88 FALKNER. 

no scrutiny — be asked no insidious questions. 
He could look each man in the face, and none 
trace his crime in his own. 

It was a wild scheme to make so young a 
child as Elizabeth the companion of these 
devious and long wanderings ; yet it was 
her idea that shed golden rays on the bound- 
less prospect he contemplated. He could not 
have undertaken this long journey alone — 
memory and remorse his only companions. He 
was not one of those, unfortunately, whom a 
bright eye and kindly smile can light at once 
into a flame — soon burnt out, it is true, but 
warming and cheering, and yet harmless while 
it lasted. He could not among strangers at 
once discern the points to admire, and make 
himself the companion of the intelligent and 
good, through a sort of freemasonry some 
spirits possess. This was a great defect of 
character. He was proud and reserved. His 
esteem must be won — long habits of intimacy 
formed — his fastidious taste never wounded — 



FALKNER. 89 

his imagination never baulked — without this, 
he was silent and wrapt in himself. All his 
life he had cherished a secret and ardent pas- 
sion, beyond whose bounds every thing was ste- 
rile — this had changed from the hopes of love 
to the gnawing pangs of remorse — but still his 
heart fed on itself — and unless that was inte- 
rested, and by the force of affection he were 
called out of himself, he must be miserable. 
To arrive unwelcomed at an inn — to wander 
through unknown streets and cities, without 
any stimulus of interest or curiosity — to tra- 
verse vast tracts of country, useless to others, 
a burthen to himself — alone, this would have 
been intolerable. But Elizabeth was the 
cure ; she was the animating soul of his pro- 
j ect : her smiles — her caresses — the knowledge 
that he benefited her, was the life-blood of 
his design. He indulged with a sort of rap- 
ture in the feeling, that he loved, and was 
beloved by an angel of innocence, who grew, 
each day, into a creature endowed with in- 



90 FALKNER. 

telligence, sympathies, hopes, fears, and affec- 
tions — all individually her own, and yet all 
modelled by him — centred in him — to whom 
he was necessary — who would be his : not like 
the vain love of his youth, only in imagina- 
tion, but in every thought and sensation, to 
the end of time. 

Nor did he intend to pursue his journey in 
such a way as to overtask her strength, or 
injure her health. He cared not how much 
time elapsed before its completion. It would 
certainly employ years ; it mattered not how 
many. When winter rendered travelling 
painful, he could take up his abode in a me- 
tropolis abounding in luxuries. During the 
summer heats he might fix himself in some 
villa, where the season would be mitigated 
to pleasantness. If impelled by a capricious 
predilection, he could stay for months in any 
chance selected spot : but his home was, with 
Elizabeth beside him, in his travelling car- 
riage. Perpetual change would baffle pur- 



FALKNER. 91 

suit, if any were set on foot ; while the rest- 
lessness of his life, the petty annoyances and 
fleeting pleasures of a traveller's existence, 
would serve to occupy his mind, and prevent 
its being mastered by those passions to which 
one victim had been immolated, and which 
rendered the remnant of his days loathsome to 
himself. " I have determined to live," he 
thought, " and I must therefore insure the 
means of life. I must adopt a method by 
which I can secure for each day that stock 
of patience which is necessary to lead me 
to the end of it. In the plan I have laid down, 
every day will have a task to be fulfilled ; 
and, while I employ myself in executing it, I 
need look neither before nor behind ; and each 
day added thus, one by one, to one another, 
will form months and years, and I shall grow 
old, travelling post over Europe." 

His resolution made, he was eager to enter 
on his travels, which, singular to say, he per- 
formed even in the very manner he had de- 



92 FALKNER. 

termined ; for the slight changes in the exact 
route, introduced afterwards, from motives of 
convenience or pleasure, might be deemed 
rather as in accordance with, than deviating 
from, his original project. 

Falkner was not a man ordinarily met 
with. He possessed wild and fierce passions, 
joined to extreme sensibility, beneficence, and 
generosity. His boyhood had been rendered 
miserable by the violence of a temper roused 
to anger, even from trifles. Collision with 
his fellow-creatures, a sense of dignity with 
his equals, and of justice towards his inferiors, 
had subdued this ; still his blood was apt to 
boil when roused by any impediment to his 
designs, or the sight of injury towards others; 
and it was with great difficulty that he kept 
down the outward marks of indignation or 
contempt. To tame the vehemence of his 
disposition, he had endeavoured to shackle his 
imagination, and to cultivate his reason — and 
perhaps he fancied that he succeeded best, 



FALKNER. 



93 



when, in fact, he entirely failed. As now, when 
he took the little orphan with him away from 
all the ties of blood — the manners and customs 
of her country — from the discipline of regular 
education, and the society of others of her sex — 
had not Elizabeth been the creature she was, 
with a character not to be disharmonized by 
any circumstances, this had been a fearful 
experiment. 

Yet he fondly hoped to derive happiness 
from it. Traversing long tracts of country 
with vast speed, cut off from intercourse with 
every one but her, and she endearing herself 
more, daily, by extreme sweetness of dispo- 
sition, he began almost to forget the worm 
gnawing at his bosom ; and, feeling himself 
free, to fancy himself happy. Unfortunately, 
it was not so : he had passed the fatal Ru- 
bicon, placed by conscience between inno- 
cence and crime ; and however much he might 
for a time deaden the stings of feeling, or 
baffle the inevitable punishment, hereafter to 



94 FALKNER. 

arise from the consequences of his guilt, still 
there was a burthen on his soul that took all 
real zest from life, and made his attempts 
at enjojnnent more like the experiments of a 
physician to dissipate sickness, than the buoy- 
ant sensations of one in health. 

But then he thought not of himself — he did 
not live in himself, but in the joyous being at 
his side. Her happiness was exuberant. She 
might be compared to an exotic, lately pinched, 
and drooping from the effects of the wintry 
air, transported back in the first opening of a 
balmy southern spring, to its native clime. 
The young and tender green leaves unfolded 
themselves in the pleasant air ; blossoms ap- 
peared among the foliage, and sweet fruit 
might be anticipated. Nor was it only the 
kindness of her protector that endeared him to 
her : much of the warm sentiment of affection 
arose from their singular modes of life. Had 
they continued at a fixed residence, in town or 
country, in a civilized land, Elizabeth had 



FALKNER. 95 

seen her guardian at stated periods ; have 
now and then taken a walk with him, or gam- 
bolled in the garden at his side ; while, for 
the chief part, their occupation and pursuits 
being different, they had been little together. 
As it was, they were never apart : side by 
side in a travelling carriage — now arriving, 
now departing ; now visiting the objects wor- 
thy of observation in various cities. They 
shared in all the pleasures and pains of travel, 
and each incident called forth her sense of de- 
pendence, and his desire to protect ; or, chang- 
ing places, even at that early age, she soothed 
his impatience, while he was beguiled of his 
irritability by her cheerful voice and smil- 
ing face. In all this, Elizabeth felt most 
strongly the tie that bound them. Sometimes 
benighted ; sometimes delayed by swollen 
rivers ; reduced to bear together the miseries 
of a bad inn, or, at times, of no inn at all ; — 
sometimes in danger — often worn by fatigue — 
Elizabeth found in her adopted parent a shel- 



96 



FALKNER. 



ter, a support, and a preserver. Creeping 
close to him, her little hand clasped in his, or 
carried in his arms, she feared nothing, be- 
cause he was there. During storms at sea, he 
had placed his own person between her and 
the bitter violence of the wind, and had often 
exposed himself to the inclemency of the wea- 
ther to cover her, and save her from wet and 
cold. At all times he was on the alert to 
assist, and his assistance was like the coming 
of a superior being, sufficient to save her from 
harm, and inspire her with courage. Such 
circumstances had, perhaps, made a slight im- 
pression on many children ; but Elizabeth had 
senses and sensibilities so delicately strung, as 
to be true to the slightest touch of harmony. 

She had not forgotten the time when, neg- 
lected, and almost in rags, she only heard the 
voice of complaint or chiding ; when she 
crept alone over the sands to her mother's 
grave, and, did a tempest overtake her, there 
was none to shield or be of comfort; she re- 



FALKNER. 97 

m ember ed little accidents that had at times 
befallen her, which, to her infantine feelings* 
seemed mighty dangers. But there had been 
none, as now, to pluck her from peril, and in- 
sure her safety. She recollected when, on one 
occasion, a thunder-storm had overtaken her 
in the church-yard; when, hurrying home, 
her foot slipped, as she attempted to descend 
the wet path of the cliff — frightened, she clam- 
bered up again, and, returning home by the 
upper road, had lost her way, and found night 
darkening round her — -wet, tired, and shivering 
with fear and cold ; and then, on her return, 
her welcome had been a scolding — well meant, 
perhaps, but vulgar, loud, and painful : and 
now the contrast ! Her wishes guessed — her 
thoughts divined — ready succour and perpetual 
vigilance were for ever close at hand ; and all 
this accompanied by a gentleness, kindness, 
and even by a respect, which the ardent, yet 
refined feelings of her protector readily be- 
stowed. Thus a physical gratitude — so to 

VOL. I. F 



98 FALKNER. 

speak — sprung up in her child's heart, a pre- 
cursor to the sense of moral obligation, to be 
developed in after years. Every hour added 
strength to her affection, and habit generated 
fidelity, and an attachment, not to be shaken 
by any circumstances. 

Nor was kindness from him the only tie be- 
tween them. Elizabeth discerned his sadness, 
and tried to cheer his gloom. Now and then 
the fierceness of his temper broke forth to- 
wards others ; but she was never terrified, and 
grieved for the object of his indignation ; or if 
she felt it to be unjust, she pleaded the cause 
of the injured, and, by her caresses, brought 
him back to himself. She early learnt the 
power she had over him, and loved him the more 
fondly on that account. Thus there existed a 
perpetual interchange of benefit — of watchful 
care — of mutual forbearance — of tender pity 
and thankfulness. If all this seems beyond 
the orphan's years, it must be remembered 
that peculiar circumstances develop peculiar 



FALKNER. 99 

faculties ; and that, besides, what is latent 
does not the less exist on that account. Eliza- 
beth could not have expressed, and was, in- 
deed, unconscious of the train of feeling here 
narrated. It was the microcosm of a plant, 
folded up in its germ. Sometimes looking at 
a green, unformed bud, we wonder why a 
particular texture of leaves must inevitably 
spring from it, and why another sort of plant 
should not shoot out from the dark stem : but, 
as the tiny leaflet uncloses, it is there in all 
its peculiarity, and endowed with all the 
especial qualities of its kind. Thus with Eli- 
zabeth, however, in the thoughtlessness and 
inexperience of childhood, small outward 
show was made of the inner sense ; yet in her 
heart tenderness, fidelity, and unshaken truth, 
were folded up, to be developed as her mind 
gained ideas, and sensation gradually verged 
into sentiment. 

The course of years, also, is included in this 
sketch. She was six years old when she left 

f2 



100 FALKKER. 

Paris — she was nearly ten when, after many 
wanderings, and a vast tract of country over- 
passed, they arrived at Odessa. There had 
always been a singular mixture of childishness 
and reflection in her, and this continued even 
now. As far as her own pleasures were con- 
cerned, she might be thought behind her age ; 
to chase a butterfly — to hunt for a flower — to 
play with a favourite animal — to listen with 
eagerness to the wildest fairy tales, — such 
were her pleasures ; but there was something 
more as she watched the turns of countenance 
in him she named her father — adapted her- 
self to his gloomy or communicative mood — 
pressed near him when she thought he was 
annoyed— and restrained every appearance of 
discomfort, when he was distressed by her 
being exposed to fatigue or the inclement 
sky. 

When at St. Peter sburgh he fell ill, she 
never left his bed-side ; and, remembering 
the death of her parents, she wasted away 



FALKNER. 101 

with terror and grief. At another time, in a 
wild district of Russia, she sickened of the 
measles. They were obliged to take refuge in 
a miserable hovel; and, despite all his care, 
the want of medical assistance endangered 
her life ; while her convalescence was ren- 
dered tedious and painful by the absence of 
every comfort. Her sweet eyes grew dim; 
her little head drooped. No mother could 
have attended on her more assiduously than 
Falkner ; and she long after remembered his 
sitting by her in the night to give her drink — 
her pillow smoothed by him — and, when she 
grew a little better, his carrying her in his 
arms under a shady grove, so to give her 
the benefit of the air, in a manner that 
would least incommode her. These inci- 
dents were never forgotten. They were as 
the colour and fragrance to the rose — the 
very beauty and delight of both their lives. 
Falkner felt a half remorse at the too great 



102 FALKNER. 

pleasure he derived from her society ; while 
hers was a sort of rapturous, thrilling ado- 
ration, that dreamt not of the necessity 
of a check, and luxuriated in its boundless 
excess. 



FALKNER. 103 



CHAPTER VI. 



It was late in the autumn when the travel- 
lers arrived at Odessa, whence they were to 
embark for Constantinople ; in the neigh- 
bourhood of which city they intended to pass 
the winter. 

It must not be supposed that Falkner 
journeyed in the luxurious and troublesome 
style of a Milord Anglais. A caleche was his 
only carriage. He had no attendant for him- 
self, and was often obliged to change the 
woman hired for the service of Elizabeth. 
The Parisian, with whom they commenced 



104 FALKNER. 

their journey, was reduced to despair by the 
time they arrived at Hamburgh. The German 
who replaced her, was dismissed at Stockholm. 
The Swede next hired, became homesick at 
Moscow, and they arrived at Odessa without 
any servant. Falkner scarcely knew what to 
do, being quite tired of the exactions, ca- 
prices, and repinings of each expatriated menial 
— yet it was necessary that Elizabeth should 
have a female attendant ; and, on his arrival 
at Odessa, he immediately set on foot various 
inquiries to procure one. Several presented 
themselves, who proved wholly unfit ; and 
Falkner was made angry by their extortionate 
demands, and total incapacity. 

At length a person was ushered into him, 
who looked, who was, English. She was below 
the middle stature — spare, and upright in 
figure, with a composed countenance, and 
an appearance of tidiness and quiet that was 
quite novel, and by no means unpleasing, 
contrasted with the animated gestures, loud 



PALKNER. 105 

voices, and exaggerated protestations of the 
foreigners. 

" I hear, sir," she began, "that you are 
inquiring for an attendant to wait on Miss 
Falkner, during your journey to Vienna: I 
should be very glad if you would accept my 
services." 

"Are you a lady's maid, in any English 
family here ?" asked Falkner. 

" I beg your pardon, sir," continued the 
little woman, primly, " I am a governess. I 
lived many years with a Russian lady, at St. 
Petersburgh ; she brought me here, and is 
gone and left me." 

" Indeed !" exclaimed Falkner ; " that seems 
a very unjust proceeding — how did it happen V s 

" On our arrival at Odessa, sir, the lady, 
who had no such notion before, insisted on 
converting me to her church ; and because I 
refused, she used me, I may say, very ill ; 
and, hiring a Greek girl, left me here quite 
destitute." 

f3 



106 FALKNER. 

" It seems that you have the spirit of a 
martyr," observed Falkner, smiling. 

" I do not pretend to that," she replied ; 
" but I was born and brought up a Protestant 
— and I did not like to pretend to believe 
what I could not." 

Falkner was pleased with the answer, and 
looked more scrutinizingly on the applicant. 
She was not ugly — but slightly pitted with the 
small-pox — and with insignificant features; 
her mouth looked obstinate — and her light 
grey eyes, though very quick and intelligent, 
yet from their smallness, and the lids and 
brows being injured by the traces of the ma- 
lady, did not redeem her countenance from 
an entirely common-place appearance, which 
might not disgust, but could not attract. 

" Do you understand," asked Falkner, " that 
I need a servant, and not a governess. I have 
no other attendant for my daughter ; and you 
must not be above waiting on her as she has 
been accustomed." 



FALKNER. 107 

" I can make no objection," she replied ; 
u my first wish is to get away from this 
place, free from expense. At Vienna I can find 
a situation such as I have been accustomed 
to — now I shall be very glad to reach Germany 
safely in any creditable capacity — and I shall 
be grateful to you, sir, if you do not consider 
my being destitute against me, but be willing 
to help a countrywoman in distress." 

There was a simplicity, though a hardness in 
her manner, and an entire want of pretension or 
affectation that pleased Falkner. He inquired 
concerning her abilities as a governess, and 
began to feel that in that capacity also, she 
might be useful to Elizabeth, He had been 
accustomed, on all convenient occasions, to hire 
a profusion of masters ; but this desultory sort 
of teaching did not inculcate those habits of 
industry and daily application which it is the 
best aim of education to promote. At the 
same time he much feared an improper female 
companion for the child, and had suffered a 



108 FALKNER. 

good deal of anxiety on account of the many 
changes he had been forced to make. He 
observed the lady before him narrowly — there 
was nothing prepossessing, but all seemed 
plain and unassuming ; though formal, she was 
direct — her words few — her voice quiet and 
low, without being soft or constrained. He 
asked her what remuneration she would ex- 
pect — she said that her present aim was to get 
to Vienna free of expense, and she did not ex- 
pect much beyond — she had been accustomed 
to receive eighty pounds a year as governess, 
but as she was to serve Miss Falkner as 
maid, she would only ask twenty. 

" But as I wish you to act as both," said 
Falkner, " we must join the two sums, and I 
will pay you a hundred." 

A ray of pleasure actually for a second 
illuminated the little woman's face ; while with 
an unaltered tone of voice she replied : " I shall 
be very thankful, sir, if you think proper." 

" You must, however, understand our con- 



FALKNER. 109 

ditions," said Falkner. " I talk of Vienna — 
but I travel for my pleasure, with no fixed 
bourn or time. I am not going direct to 
Germany — I spend the winter at Constan- 
tinople. It may be that I shall linger in 
those parts — it may be that from Greece I shall 
cross to Italy. You must not insist on my 
taking you to Vienna: it is enough for your 
purpose,. I suppose, if you reach a civilized 
part of the world, and are comfortably situated, 
till you find some other family going whither 
you desire." 

She was acquiescent. She insisted, however, 
with much formality, that he should make 
inquiries concerning her from several respect- 
able families at Odessa ; otherwise, she said, 
he could not fitly recommend her to any other 
situation. Falkner complied. Every one spoke 
of her in high terms, lauding her integrity 
and kindness of heart. " Miss Jervis is the 
best creature in the world," said the wife of 
the French Consul ; " only she is English to 



110 FALKNER. 

the core — so precise, and formal, and silent, 
and quiet, and cold. Nothing can persuade 
her to do what she does not think right. 
After being so shamefully deserted, she might 
have lived in my house, or four or five others, 
doing nothing ; but she chose to have pupils, 
and to earn money by teaching. This might 
have been merely for the sake of paying for 
her journey; but, besides this, we discovered 
that she supports some poor relation in 
England, and, while cast away here, she still 
remembered and sent remittances to one 
whom she thought in want. She has a heart 
of gold, though it does not shine." 

Pleased with this testimony, Falkner 
thought himself fortunate in securing her 
services, at the same time that he feared 
he should find her presence a considerable 
encumbrance. A servant was a cipher, but 
a governess must receive attention — she was 
an equal, who would perpetually form a third 
with him and Elizabeth. His reserve, his 



FALKNER. Ill 

love of independence, and his regard for the 
feelings of another, would be perpetually at 
war. To be obliged to talk, when he wished 
to be silent ; to listen to, and answer frivolous 
remarks ; to know that at all times a stranger 
was there — all this seemed to him a gigantic 
evil ; but it vanished after a few days' trial of 
their new companion's qualities. Whatever 
Miss Jervis's latent virtues might be, she 
thought that the chief among them was to be 

Content to dwell in decencies for ever — 

her ambition was to be unimpeachably cor- 
rect in conduct. It a little jarred with her 
notions to be in the house of a single gentle- 
man — but her desolate situation at Odessa 
allowed her no choice; and she tried to 
counterbalance the evil by seeing as little 
of her employer as possible. Brought up 
from childhood to her present occupation, 
she was moulded to its very form ; and her 
thoughts never strayed beyond her theory of a 



112 FALKNER. 

good governess. Her methods were all 
straight forward — pointing steadily to one 
undisguised aim — no freak of imagination 
ever led her out of one hard, defined, unerratic 
line. She had no pretension, even in the 
innermost recess of her heart, beyond her 
station. To be diligent and conscientious in 
her task of teaching, was the sole virtue to 
which she pretended; and, possessed of much 
good sense, great integrity, and untiring 
industry, she succeeded beyond what could 
have been expected from one apparently so 
insignificant and taciturn. 

She was, at the beginning, limited very 
narrowly in the exercise of any authority over 
her pupil. She was obliged, therefore, to 
exert herself in winning influence, instead of 
controlling by reprimands. She took great 
pains to excite Elizabeth to learn ; and once 
having gained her consent to apply to any 
particular study, she kept her to it with pa- 
tience and perseverance ; and the very zeal 



FALKNER. ] 13 

and diligence she displayed in teaching, made 
Elizabeth ashamed to repay her with an in- 
attention that looked like ingratitude. Soon, 
also, curiosity, and a love of knowledge, de- 
veloped itself. Elizabeth's mind was of that 
high order which soon found something con- 
genial in study. The acquirement of new 
ideas — the sense of order, and afterwards of 
power — awoke a desire for improvement. 
Falkner was a man of no common intellect ; 
but his education had been desultory ; and he 
had never lived with the learned and well- 
informed. His mind was strong in its own 
elements, but these lay scattered, and some- 
what chaotic. His observation was keen, and 
his imagination fervid ; but it was inborn, 
uncultivated, and unenriched by any vast 
stores of reading. He was the very opposite 
of a pedant. Miss Jervis was much of the 
latter ; but the two served to form Elizabeth 
to something better than either. She learned 
from Falkner the uses of learning : from Miss 



114 FALKNER. 

Jervis she acquired the thoughts and expe- 
rience of other men. Like all young and 
ardent minds, which are capable of enthu- 
siasm, she found infinite delight in the pages 
of ancient history : she read biography, and 
speedily found models for herself, whereby she 
measured her own thoughts and conduct, recti- 
fying her defects, and aiming at that honour 
and generosity which made her heart beat, 
and cheeks glow, when narrated of others. 

There was another very prominent distinc- 
tion between Falkner and the governess : it 
made a part of the system of the latter never 
to praise. All that she tasked her pupil to do, 
was a duty — when not done it was a deplorable 
fault — when executed, the duty was fulfilled, 
and she need not reproach herself, — that was 
all. Falkner, on the contrary, fond and 
eager, soon looked upon her as a prodigy; 
and though reserved, as far as his own emotions 
were concerned, he made no secret of his 
almost adoration of Elizabeth. His praise was 



FALKNER. 115 

enthusiastic — it brought tears into her eyes — 
and yet, strange to say, it is doubtful whether 
she ever strived so eagerly, or felt so satisfied 
with it, as for the parsimonious expressions 
of bare satisfaction from Miss Jervis. They 
excited two distinct sensations. She loved 
her protector the more for his fervid appro- 
bation — it was the crown of all his gifts — she 
wept sometimes only to remember his ardent 
expressions of approbation ; but Miss Jervis 
inspired self-diffidence, and with it a stronger 
desire for improvement. Thus the sensibility 
of her nature was cultivated, while her conceit 
was checked; to feel that to be meritorious 
with Miss Jervis was impossible, — not to be 
faulty was an ambitious aim. She easily dis- 
covered that affection rather than discernment 
dictated the approbation of Falkner ; and loved 
him better, but did not prize herself the more. 
He, indeed, was transported by the progress 
she made. Like most self-educated, or unedu- 
cated men, he had a prodigious respect for 



116 FALKNER. 

learning, and was easily deceived into think- 
ing much of what was little : he felt elated 
when he found Elizabeth eager to recite the 
wonders recorded in history, and to delineate 
the characters of ancient heroes — narrating 
their achievements, and quoting their sayings. 
His imagination and keen spirit of observation 
were, at the same time, of the utmost use. He 
analyzed with discrimination the actions of her 
favourites — brought the experience of a mind 
full of passion and reflection to comment upon 
every subject, and taught her to refer each 
maxim and boasted virtue to her own senti- 
ments and situation ; thus to form a store of 
principle by which to direct her future life. 

Nor were these more masculine studies the 
only lessons of Miss Jervis — needlework en- 
tered into her plan of education, as well as the 
careful inculcation of habits of neatness and 
order ; and thus Elizabeth escaped for ever the 
danger she had hitherto run of wanting those 
feminine qualities without which every woman 



PALKNER. 117 

must be unhappy — and, to a certain degree, 
unsexed. The governess, meanwhile, was the 
most unobtrusive of human beings. She never 
showed any propensity to incommode her 
employer by making him feel her presence. 
Seated in a corner of the carriage, with a book 
in her hand, she adopted the ghostly rule of 
never speaking, except when spoken to . When 
stopping at inns, or when, on arriving at Con- 
stantinople, they became stationary, she was 
even less obtrusive. At first Falkner had 
deemed it proper to ask her to accompany 
them in their excursions and drives ; but she 
was so alive to the impropriety of being seen 
with a gentleman, with only a young child for 
their companion, that she always preferred 
staying at home. After ranging a beautiful 
landscape, after enjoying the breezes of heaven 
and the sight of the finest views in the world, 
when Elizabeth returned, she always found 
her governess sitting in the same place, away 
from the window, (because, when in London, 



1 18 FALKNER. 

she had been told that it was not proper to 
look out of window,) even though the sublimest 
objects of nature were spread for her view ; 
and employed on needlework, or the study of 
some language that might hereafter serve to 
raise her in the class of governesses. She had 
travelled over half the habitable globe, and 
part of the uninhabited — but she had never di- 
verged from the prejudices and habits of home 
* — no gleam of imagination shed its golden 
hue over her drab-coloured mind : whatever 
of sensibility existed to soften or dulcify, she 
sedulously hid ; yet such was her serenity, 
her justice, her trustworthiness, and total 
absence of pretension, that it was impossible 
not to esteem, and almost to like her. 

The trio, thus diverse in disposition, yet, by 
the force of a secret harmony, never fell into 
discord. Miss Jervis was valued, and by 
Elizabeth obeyed in all that concerned her 
vocation — she therefore was satisfied. Falk- 
ner felt her use, and gladly marked the good 



PALKNER. 119 

effects of application and knowledge on the 
character of his beloved ward — it was the 
moulding of a block of Parian marble into a 
Muse; all corners — all superfluous surface- 
all roughness departed — the intelligent, noble 
brow — the serious, inquiring eye — the mouth 
—seat of sensibility — all these were developed 
with new beauty, as animated by the aspiring- 
soul within. Her gentleness and sweetness 
increased with the cultivation of her mind. 
To be wise and good was her ambition — partly 
to please her beloved father — partly because 
her young mind perceived the uses and beauty 
of knowledge. 

If any thing could have cured the rankling 
wounds of Falkner's mind, it was the excel- 
lence of the young Elizabeth. Again and 
again he repeated to himself, that, brought up 
among the worldly and cold, her noblest 
qualities would either have been destroyed, or 
produced misery. In contributing to her hap- 
piness and goodness, he hoped to make some 



120 FALKNER. 

atonement for the past. There were many 
periods when remorse, and regret, and self- 
abhorrence held powerful sway over him : he 
was, indeed, during the larger portion of his 
time, in the fullest sense of the word — mise- 
rable. Yet there were gleams of sunshine 
he had never hoped to experience again — and 
he readily gave way to this relief; while he 
hoped that the worst of his pains were over. 

In this idea he was egregiously mistaken. 
He was allowed to repose for a few years. 
But the cry of blood was yet unanswered — the 
evil he had committed unatoned ; though they 
did not approach him, the consequences of his 
crime were full of venom and bitterness to 
others — and, unawares and unexpectedly, he 
was brought to view and feel the wretchedness 
of which he was the sole author. 



FALKNER. 



121 



CHAPTER VII. 



Three more years passed thus over the 
head of the young Elizabeth ; when, during* 
the warm summer months, the wanderers 
established themselves for a season at Baden, 
They had hitherto lived in great seclu- 
sion — and Falkner continued to do so ; but 
he was not sorry to find his adopted child 
noticed and courted by various noble ladies, 
who were charmed by the pure complexion — 
the golden hair, and spirited, though gentle, 
manners of the young English girl. 

Elizabeth's characteristic was an enthusias- 

VOL. I. G 



122 FALKNER. 

tic affectionateness — every little act of kind- 
ness that she received excited her gratitude : 
she felt as if she never could — though she 
would constantly endeavour — repay the vast 
debt she owed her benefactor. She loved to 
repass in her mind those sad days when, under 
the care of the sordid Mrs. Baker, she ran 
every hazard of incurring the worst evils of 
poverty ; ignorance, and blunted sensibility. 
She had preserved her little well-worn shoes, 
full of holes, and slipping from her feet, as a 
sort of record of her neglected situation. She 
remembered how her hours had been spent 
loitering on the beach — sometimes with her 
little book, from which her mother had taught 
her — oftener in constructing sand castles, de- 
corated with pebbles and broken shells. She 
recollected how she had thus built an imita- 
tion of the church and church-yard, with its 
shady corner, and single stone, marking two 
graves : she remembered the vulgar, loud 
voice that called her from her employment, 



PALKNER. 123 

with, "Come, Missy, come to your dinner! 
The Lord help me ! I wonder when any body 
else will give you a dinner." She called to 
mind the boasts of Mrs. Baker's children, con- 
trasting their Sunday frock with hers— the 
smallest portion of cake given to her last, 
and with a taunt that made her little heart 
swell, and her throat feel choked, so that she 
could not eat it, but scattered it to the birds — 
on which she was beat for being wasteful ; all 
this was contrasted with the vigilance, the 
tenderness, the respect of her protector. She 
brooded over these thoughts till he became 
sacred in her eyes ; and, young as she was, her 
heart yearned and sickened for an occasion to 
demonstrate the deep and unutterable thank- 
fulness that possessed her soul. 

She was not aware of the services she ren- 
dered him in her turn. The very sight of her 
was the dearest — almost the only joy of his 
life. Devoured by disappointment, gloom, and 
remorse, he found no relief except in her 

g2 



124 FALKNER. 

artless prattle, or the consciousness of the 
good he did her. She perceived this, and was 
ever on the alert to watch his mood, and to 
try by every art to awaken complacent feel- 
ings. She did not know, it is true, the cause 
of his sufferings — the fatal memories that 
haunted him in the silence of night — and 
threw a dusky veil over the radiance of day. 
She did not see the fair, reproachful figure, 
that was often before him to startle and appal 
— she did not hear the shrieks that rung in 
his ears — nor behold her floating away, life- 
less, on the turbid waves — who, but a little 
before, had stood in all the glow of life and 
beauty before him. All these agonizing 
images haunted silently his miserable soul, and 
Elizabeth could only see the shadow they cast 
over him, and strive to dissipate it. When 
she could perceive the dark hour passing off, 
chased away by her endeavours, she felt proud 
and happy. And when he told her that she had 
saved his life, and was his only tie to it — that 



FALKNER. 125 

she alone prevented his perishing miserably, 
or lingering in anguish and despair, her fond 
heart swelled with rapture ; and what soul-felt 
vows she made to remain for ever beside him, 
and pay back to the last the incalculable 
debt she owed ! If it be true that the most 
perfect love subsists between unequals — no 
more entire attachment ever existed, than that 
between this man of sorrows, and the happy 
innocent child. He, worn by passion, oppressed 
by a sense of guilt, his brow trenched by the 
struggles of many years — she, stepping pure 
and free into life, innocent as an angel — ani- 
mated only by the most disinterested feelings. 
The link between them of mutual benefit and 
mutual interest had been cemented by time 
and habit — by each waking thought, and 
nightly dream. What is so often a slothful, 
unapparent sense of parental and filial duty, 
was with them a living, active spirit, for 
ever manifesting itself in some new form. It 
woke with them, went abroad with them — 



126 FALKNER. 

attuned the voice, and shone brightly in the 
eyes. 

It is a singular law of human life, that the 
past, which apparently no longer forms a por- 
tion of our existence, never dies ; new shoots, 
as it were, spring up at different intervals and 
places, all bearing the indelible characteris- 
tics of the parent stalk ; the circular emblem 
of eternity is suggested by this meeting and 
recurrence of the broken ends of our life. 
Falkner had been many years absent from 
England. He had quitted it to get rid of the 
consequences of an act which he deeply de- 
plored, but which he did not wish his enemies 
to have the triumph of avenging. So com- 
pletely during this interval had he been cut 
off from any, even allusion to the past, that 
he often tried to deceive himself into thinking 
it a dream ; — often into the persuasion, that, 
tragical as was the catastrophe he had 
brought about, it was in its result for the 
best. The remembrance of the young and 



FALKNER. 127 

lovely victim lying dead at his feet, prevented 
his ever being really the dupe of these fond de- 
ceits — but still, memory and imagination alone 
ministered to remorse — it was brought home to 
him by none of the effects from which he had se- 
parated himself by a vast extent of sea and land. 
The sight of the English at Baden was ex- 
ceedingly painful to him. They seemed so 
many accusers and judges; he sedulously 
avoided their resorts, and turned away when 
he saw any approach. Yet he permitted Eliza- 
beth to visit among them, and heard her ac- 
counts of what she saw and heard even with 
pleasure ; for every word showed the favour- 
able impression she made, and the simplicity 
of her own tastes and feelings. It was a new 
world to her, to find herself talked to, praised 
and caressed, by decrepit, painted, but cour- 
teous old princesses, dowagers, and all the 
tribe of German nobility and English fashion- 
able wanderers. She was much amused, and 
her lively descriptions often made Falkner 



128 FALKNER. 

smile, and pleased him by proving that her 
firm and unsophisticated heart was not to be 
deluded by adulation. 

Soon, however, she became more interested 
by a strange tale she brought home, of a soli- 
tary boy. He was English — handsome, and 
well born — but savage, and secluded to a de- 
gree that admitted of no attention being paid 
him. She heard him spoken of at first, at the 
house of some foreigners. They entered on 
a dissertation on the peculiar melancholy of 
the English, that could develop itself in a lad 
scarcely sixteen. He was a misanthrope. He 
was seen rambling the country, either on foot r 
or on a pony — but he would accept no invita- 
tions — shunned the very aspect of his fellows 
— never appearing, by any chance, in the fre- 
quented walks about the baths. Was he deaf 
and dumb ? Some replied in the affirmative r 
and yet this opinion gained no general belief. 
Elizabeth once saw him at a little distance, 
seated under a wide-spreading tree in a little 



FALKNER. 129 

dell — to her he seemed more handsome than 
any thing she had ever seen, and more sad. 
One day she was in company with a gentle- 
man, who she was told was his father ; a man 
somewhat advanced in years — of a stern, satur- 
nine aspect — whose smile was a sneer, and 
who Spoke of his only child, calling him that 
"unhappy boy," in a tone that bespoke rather 
contempt than commiseration. It soon became 
rumoured that he was somewhat alienated in 
mind through the ill-treatment of his parent 
— and Elizabeth could almost believe this — 
she was so struck by the unfeeling and dis- 
agreeable appearance of the stranger. 

All this she related to Falkner with peculiar 
earnestness — " If you could only see him," 
she said, " if we could only get him here — we 
would cure his misery, and his wicked father 
should no longer torment him. If he is de- 
ranged, he is harmless, and I am sure he 
would love us. — It is too sad to see one so 

g3 



130 FALKNER, 

gentle and so beautiful pining away without 
any to love him." 

Falkner smiled at the desire to cure every 
evil that crossed her path, which is one of the 
sweetest illusions of youth, and asked, " Has 
he no mother ?" 

" No," replied Elizabeth, "he is an orphan 
like me, and his father is worse than dead, as 
he is so inhuman. Oh ! how I wish you would 
save him as you saved me." 

"That, I am afraid, would be out of my 
power," said Falkner ; " yet, if you can make 
any acquaintance with him, and can bring him 
here, perhaps we may discover some method 
of serving him." 

For Falkner had, with all his sufferings and 
his faults, much of the Don Quixote about 
him, and never heard a story of oppression 
without forming a scheme to relieve the vic- 
tim. On this permission, Elizabeth watched 
for some opportunity to become acquainted 



FALKNER. 131 

with the poor boy. But it was vain. Sometimes 
she saw him at a distance ; but if walking in 
the same path, he turned off as soon as he saw 
her ; or, if sitting down, he got up, and disap- 
peared, as if by magic. Miss Jervis thought 
her endeavours by no means proper, and would 
give her no assistance. " If any lady intro- 
duced him to you," she said, " it would be 
very well ; but, to run after a young gentle- 
man, only because he looks unhappy, is very 
odd, and even wrong." 

Still Elizabeth persisted ; she argued, that 
she did not want to know him herself, but 
that her father should be acquainted with 
him — and either induce his father to treat him 
better, or take him home to live with them. 

They lived at some distance from the baths, 
in a shady dell, whose sides, a little fur- 
ther on, were broken and abrupt. One 
afternoon, they were lingering not far from 
their house, when they heard a noise among 
the underwood and shrubs above them, as if 



132 FALKNER. 

some one was breaking his way through. " It 
is he, — look !" cried Elizabeth ; and there 
emerged from the covert, on to a more open, 
but still more precipitous path, the youth 
they had remarked : he was urging his horse, 
with wilful blindness to danger, down a de- 
clivity which the animal was unwilling to 
attempt. Falkner saw the danger, and was 
sure that the boy was unaware of how steep 
the path grew at the foot of the hill. He 
called out to him, but the lad did not heed 
his voice — in another minute the horse's 
feet slipped, the rider was throwm over his 
head, and the animal himself rolled over. With 
a scream, Elizabeth sprang to the side of the 
fallen youth, but he rose without any appear- 
ance of great injury — or any complaint — 
evidently displeased at being observed : his 
sullen look merged into one of anxiety as he 
approached his fallen horse, whom, together 
with Falkner, he assisted to rise — the poor 
thing had fallen on a sharp point of a rock, 



FALKNER. 133 

and his side was cut and bleeding. The lad 
was now all activity, he rushed to the stream 
that watered the little dell, to procure water, 
which he brought in his hat to wash the 
wound; and as he did so, Elizabeth remarked 
to her father that he used only one hand, and 
that the other arm was surely hurt. Mean- 
while Falkner had gazed on the boy with a 
mixture of admiration and pain. He was 
wondrously handsome ; large, deep-set hazel 
eyes, shaded by long dark lashes — full at 
once of fire, and softness ; a brow of extreme 
beauty, over which clustered a profusion of 
chesnut-coloured hair ; an oval face ; a person, 
light and graceful as a sculptured image — all 
this, added to an expression of gloom that 
amounted to sullenness, with which, despite 
the extreme refinement of his features, a certain 
fierceness even was mingled, formed a study 
a painter would have selected for a kind of 
ideal poetic sort of bandit stripling ; but, 
besides this, there was resemblance, strange, 



134 FALKNER. 

and thrilling, that struck Falkner, and made 
him eye him with a painful curiosity. The 
lad spoke witli fondness to his horse, and 
accepted the offer made that it should be 
taken to Falkner's stable, and looked to by 
his groom. 

" And you, too," said Elizabeth, " you are 
in pain, you are hurt." 

"That is nothing," said the youth; "let 
me see that I have not killed this poor fellow 
— and I am not hurt to signify." 

Elizabeth felt by no means sure of this. 
And while the horse was carefully led home, 
and his wound visited, she sent a servant off 
for a surgeon, believing, in her own mind, 
that the stranger had broken his arm. She 
was not far wrong — he had dislocated his 
wrist. " It were better had it been my neck," 
he muttered, as he yielded his hand to the 
gripe of the surgeon, nor did he seem to 
wince during the painful operation ; far more 
annoyed was he by the eyes fixed upon him, 



FALKNER. 135 

and the questions asked — his manner, which 
had become mollified as he waited on his poor 
horse, resumed all its former repulsiveness ; 
he looked like a young savage, surrounded 
by enemies whom he suspects, yet is unwilling 
to assail : and when his hand was bandaged, 
and his horse again and again recommended 
to the groom, he was about to take leave, with 
thanks that almost seemed reproaches, for 
having an obligation thrust on him, when 
Miss Jervis exclaimed, "Surely I am not 
mistaken — are you not Master Neville ?" 

Falkner started as if a snake had glided 
across his path, while the youth, colouring to 
the very roots of his hair, and looking at her 
with a sort of rage at being thus in a matter 
detected, replied, " My name is Neville." 

" I thought so," said the other; " I used to 
see you at Lady Glenfell's. How is your 
father, Sir Boyvill?" 

But the youth would answer no more ; he 
darted at the questioner a look of fury, and 



136 FALKNER. 

rushed away. " Poor' fellow!" cried Miss Jer- 
vis. (t he is wilder than ever — his is a very sad 
case. His mother was the Mrs. Neville talked 
of so much once — she deserted him, and his 
father hates him. The young gentleman is half 
crazed, by ill treatment and neglect." 

" Dearest father, are you ill ?" cried 
Elizabeth — for Falkner had turned ashy pale — 
but he commanded his voice to say that he 
was well, and left the room ; a few minutes 
afterwards he had left the house, and, seeking 
the most secluded pathways, walked quickly 
on as if to escape from himself. It would not 
do — the form of her son was before him — a 
ghost to haunt him to madness. Her son, 
whom she had loved with passion inexpres- 
sible, crazed by neglect and unkindness. 
Crazed he was not — every word he spoke 
showed a perfect possession of acute faculties 
— but it was almost worse to see so much 
misery in one so young. In person, he was 
a model of beauty and grace — his mind 



FALKNER. 137 

seemed formed with equal perfection ; a quick 
apprehension, a sensibility, all alive to every 
touch ; but these were nursed in anguish and 
wrong, and strained from their true conclu- 
sions into resentment, suspicion, and a fierce 
disdain of all who injured, which seemed to his 
morbid feelings all who named or approached 
him. Falkner knew that he was the cause of 
this evil. How different a life he had led, if 
his mother had lived ! The tenderness of her 
disposition, joined to her great talents and 
sweetness, rendered her unparalleled in the 
attention she paid to his happiness and educa- 
tion. No mother ever equalled her — for no 
woman ever possessed at once equal virtues 
and equal capacities. How tenderly she had 
reared him, how devotedly fond she was, 
Falkner too well knew ; and tones and looks, 
half forgotten, were recalled vividly to his 
mind at the sight of this poor boy, wretched 
and desolate through his rashness. What 
availed it to hate, to curse the father ! — he 



138 FALKNER. 

had never been delivered over to this father, 
had never been hated by him, had his mother 
survived. All these thoughts crowded into 
Falkner's mind, and awoke an anguish, which 
time had rendered, to a certain degree, torpid. 
He regarded himself with bitter contempt and 
abhorrence — he feared, with a kind of insane 
terror, to see the youth again, whose eyes, so 
like hers, he had robbed of all expression of 
happiness, and clouded by eternal sorrow. 
He wandered on — shrouded himself in the 
deepest thickets, and clambered abrupt hills, 
so that, by breathless fatigue of body, he 
might cheat his soul of its agony. 

Night came on, and he did not return 
home. Elizabeth grew uneasy — till at last, 
on making more minute inquiry, she found 
that he had come back, and was retired to his 
room. 

It was the custom of Falkner to ride every 
morning with his daughter soon after sun- 
rise ; and on the morrow, Elizabeth had just 



FALKNER. 139 

equipped herself, her thoughts full of the 
handsome boy — whose humanity to his horse, 
combined with fortitude in enduring great 
personal pain, rendered far more interesting 
than ever. She felt sure that, having once 
commenced, their acquaintance would go on, 
and that his savage shyness would be con- 
quered by her father's kindness. To alleviate 
the sorrows of his lot — to win his confidence 
by affection, and to render him happy, was a 
project that was occupying her delightfully — 
when the tramp of a horse attracted her atten- 
tion — and, looking from the window, she saw 
Falkner ride off at a quick pace. A few 
minutes afterwards a note was brought to 
her from him. It said : — 

" Dear Elizabeth, 
' Some intelligence which I received yes- 
terday obliges me unexpectedly to leave 
Baden. You will find me at Mayence. Re- 
quest Miss Jervis to have every thing packed 



140 FALKNER. 

up as speedily as possible ; and to send for the 
landlord, and give up the possession of our 
house. The rent is paid. Come in the car- 
riage. I shall expect you this evening. 

" Yours, dearest, 

" J. Falkner." 

Nothing could be more disappointing than 
this note. Her first fairy dream beyond the 
limits of her home, to be thus brushed away 
at once. No word of young Neville — no hope 
held out of return ! For a moment an emotion 
ruffled her mind, very like ill humour. She 
read the note again — it seemed yet more un- 
satisfactory — but in turning the page, she 
found a postscript. " Pardon me," it said, 
" for not seeing you last night ; I was not 
well — nor am I now." 

These few words instantly gave a new direc- 
tion to her thoughts — her father not well, and 
she absent, was very painful — then she recurred 
to the beginning of the note. " Intelligence 



FALKNER. 141 

received yesterday," — some evil news, surely— 
since the result was to make him ill — at such 
a word the recollection of his sufferings rushed 
upon her, and she thought no more of the 
unhappy boy, but, hurrying to Miss Jervis, 
entreated her to use the utmost expedition 
that they might depart speedily. Once she 
visited Neville's horse ; it was doing well, and 
she ordered it to be led carefully and slowly 
to Sir Boyvill's stables. 

So great was her impatience, that by noon 
they were in the carriage — and in a few hours 
they joined Falkner at Mayence. Elizabeth 
gazed anxiously on him. He was an altered 
man — there was something wild and haggard 
in his looks, that bespoke a sleepless night, 
and a struggle of painful emotion by which the 
very elements of his being were convulsed — 
" You are ill, dear father," cried Elizabeth ; 
' l you have heard some news that afflicts you 
very much." 

' I have," he replied ; " but do not regard 



142 FALKNER. 

me : I shall recover the shock soon, and then 
all will be as it was before. Do not ask 
questions — but we must return to England 
immediately." 

To England ! such a word Falkner had 
never before spoken — Miss Jervis looked 
almost surprised, and really pleased. A re- 
turn to her native country, so long deserted, 
and almost forgotten, was an event to excite 
Elizabeth even to agitation — the very name 
was full of so many associations. Were they 
hereafter to reside there? Should they visit 
Treby? What was about to happen? She 
was bid ask no questions, and she obeyed — 
but her thoughts were the more busy. She 
remembered also that Neville was English, 
and she looked forward to meeting him, and 
renewing her projects for his welfare. 



FALKNER. 



143 



CHAPTER VIII, 



In the human heart — and if observation 
does not err — more particularly in the heart of 
man, the passions exert their influence fitfully. 
With some analogy to the laws which govern 
the elements — they now sleep in calm, and 
now arise with the violence of furious winds. 
Falkner had latterly attained a state of feel- 
ing approaching to equanimity. He displayed 
more cheerfulness — a readier interest in the 
daily course of events — a power to give him- 
self up to any topic discussed in his presence ; 
but this had now vanished. Gloom sat on his 



144 PALKNER. 

brow — he was inattentive even to Elizabeth. 
Sunk back in the carriage — his eyes bent on 
vacancy, he was the prey of thoughts, each of 
which had the power to wound. 

It was a melancholy journey. And when, 
they arrived in London, Falkner became still 
more absorbed and wretched. The action of 
remorse, which had been for some time sus- 
pended, renewed its attacks, and made him 
look upon himself as a creature at once hateful 
and accursed. We are such weak beings that 
the senses have power to impress us with a 
vividness, which no mere mental operation 
can produce. Falkner had been at various 
times haunted by the probable consequences 
of his guilt on the child of his victim. He 
recollected the selfish and arrogant character 
of his father ; and conscience had led him to 
reproach himself with the conviction, that 
whatever virtues young Neville derived from 
his mother, or had been implanted by her 
care, must have been rooted out by the neglect 



FALKNER. 145 

or evil example of his surviving parent The 
actual effect of her loss he had not anticipated. 
There was something heart-breaking to see 
a youth, nobly gifted by nature and fortune, 
delivered over to a sullen resentment for un- 
merited wrongs — to dejection, if not to despair. 
An uninterested observer must deeply com- 
passionate him ; Elizabeth had done so, child 
as she was — with a pity almost painful from its 
excess — what then must he feel who knew 
himself to be the cause of all his woe ? 

Falkner was not a man to sit quietly under 
these emotions. In their first onset they had 
driven him to suicide ; preserved, as by a 
miracle, he had exerted strong self-com- 
mand, and, by dint of resolution, forced him- 
self to live. Year after year had passed, and 
he abided by the sentence of life he had 
passed on himself — and, like the galley slave, 
the iron which had eaten into the flesh, 
galled less than when newly applied. But he 
was brought back from the patience engen- 

VOL. I. H 



146 FALKNER. 

dered by custom, at the sight of the unfortu- 
nate boy. He felt himself accursed — God- 
reprobated — mankind (though they knew it 
not) abhorred him. He would no longer live 
— for he deserved to die. He would not again 
raise his hand against himself — but there are 
many gates to the tomb ; he found no diffi- 
culty on selecting one by which to enter. He 
resolved to enter upon a scene of desperate 
warfare in a distant country, and to seek a 
deliverance from the pains of life by the bullet 
or the sword on the field of battle. Above all, 
he resolved that Elizabeth's innocence should 
no longer be associated with his guilt. The 
catastrophe he meditated must be sought, 
alone ; and she, whom he had lived to protect 
and foster, must be guarded from the hard- 
ships and perils to which he was about to 
deliver himself up. 

Meditation on this new course absorbed 
him for some days. At first he had been sunk 
in despondency; as the prospect opened be- 



FALKNER. 147 

fore him of activity allied to peril, and sought 
for the sake of the destruction to which it 
unavoidably led, his spirits rose; like a war- 
horse dreaming of the sound of a trumpet, 
his heart beat high in the hope of forgetting 
the consciousness of remorse in all the turbu- 
lence of battle, or the last forgetfulness of the 
grave. Still it was a difficult task to impart 
his plan to the orphan, and to prepare her for 
a separation. Several times he had tried to 
commence the subject, and felt his courage fail 
him. At length, being together one day, some 
weeks after their arrival in London — when, 
indeed, many steps had been already taken by 
him in furtherance of his project ; at twilight, 
as they sat together near the window which 
looked upon one of the London squares — and 
they had been comparing this metropolis with 
many foreign cities — Falkner abruptly, fear- 
ful if he lost this occasion, of not finding 
another so appropriate, said, " I must bid 

h2 



148 FALKNER. 

you good-by, to-night, Elizabeth — to-morrow, 
early, I set out for the north of England." 

" You mean to leave me behind ?" she asked ; 
" but you will not be away long?" 

" I am going to visit your relations," he re- 
plied; "to disclose to them that you are under 
my care, and to prepare them to receive you. 
I hope soon to return, either to conduct you 
to them, or to bring one among them to wel- 
come you here." 

Elizabeth was startled. Many years had 
elapsed since Falkner had alluded to her alien 
parentage. She went by his name, she called 
him father; and the appellation scarcely seemed 
a fiction — he had been the kindest, fondest 
parent to her — nor had he ever hinted that he 
meant to forego the claim his adoption had 
given him, and to make her over to those 
who were worse than strangers in her eyes. If 
ever they had recurred to her real situation, 
he had not been chary of expressions of in- 



FALKNER. 149 

dignation against the Raby family. He had 
described with warm resentment the selfish- 
ness, the hardness of heart, and disdain of the 
well-being of those allied to them by blood, 
which too often subsists in aristocratic English 
families, when the first bond has been broken 
by any act of disobedience. He grew angry as 
he spoke of the indignity with which her mo- 
ther had been treated — and the barbarous pro- 
position of separating her from her only child ; 
and he had fondly assured her that it was his 
dearest pride to render her independent of 
these unworthy and inhuman relations. Why 
were his intentions changed ? His voice and 
look were ominous. Elizabeth was hurt — she 
did not like to object ; she was silent — but 
Falkner deciphered her wounded feelings in 
her ingenuous countenance, and he too was 
pained ; he could not bear that she should 
think him ungrateful — mindless of her affec- 
tion, her filial attentions, and endearing vir- 
tues : he felt that he must, to a certain degree, 



150 falk;ner. 

explain his views — difficult as it was to make 
a segment of his feelings in any way take a 
definite or satisfactory shape. 

" Do not think hardly of me, my own dear 
girl," he began ; " for wishing that we should 
separate. God knows that it is a blow that 
will visit me far more severely than you. 
You will find relations and friends, who will 
be- proud of you — whose affections you will 
win; — wherever you are, you will meet with 
love and admiration — and your sweet dispo- 
sition and excellent qualities will make life 
happy. I depart alone. You are my only 
tie — my only friend — I break it and leave you 
— never can I find another. Henceforth, alone 
— I shall wander into distant and uncivilized 
countries, enter on a new and perilous career, 
during which I may perish miserably. You 
cannot share these dangers with me." 

" But why do you seek them?" exclaimed 
Elizabeth, alarmed by this sudden prophecy 
of ill. 



FALKNER. 151 

" Do you remember the day when we first 
met ?" replied Falkner ; " when my hand was 
raised against my own life, because I knew 
myself unworthy to exist. It is the same now. 
It is cowardly to live, feeling that I have 
forfeited every right to enjoy the blessings of 
life. I go that I may die — not by my own 
hand — but where I can meet death by the 
hand of others." 

Strangely and frightfully did these words 
fall on the ear of his appalled listener; he 
went on rapidly — -for having once begun, the 
words he uttered relieved, in some degree, the 
misery that burthened his soul. 

" This idea cannot astonish you, my love ; 
you have seen too much of the secret of my 
heart ; you have witnessed my fits of distress 
and anguish, and are not now told, for the first 
time, that grief and remorse weigh intolerably 
on me. I can endure the infliction no longer. 
May God forgive me in another world — .the 
light of this I will see no more !" 



152 FALKNER. 

Falkner saw the sort of astonished distress 
her countenance depicted ; and, angry with 
himself for being its cause, was going on in a 
voice changed to one less expressive of misery, 
hut Elizabeth, seized with dismay — the unbid- 
den tears pouring from her eyes ; her young — 
her child's heart bursting with a new sense 
of horror — cast herself at his feet and, em- 
bracing his knees as he sat, exclaimed, " My 
dear, dear father ! — my more than father, and 
only friend — you break my heart by speaking 
thus. If you are miserable, the more need 
that your child — the creature you preserved, 
and taught to love you — should be at your side 
to comfort — I had almost said to help you. 
You must not cast me off! Were you happy, 
you might desert me; but if you are misera- 
ble, I cannot leave you — you must not ask 
me — it kills me to think of it !" 

The youthful, who have no experience of the 
changes of life, regard the present with far 
more awe and terror than those who have 



FALKNER. 153 

seen one turn in the hour-glass suffice to 
change, and change again, the colour of their 
lives. To be divided from Falkner, was to 
have the pillars of the earth shaken under 
her — and she clung to him, and looked up 
imploringly in his face, as if the next word he 
spoke were to decide all; he kissed her, and, 
seating her on his knee, said, " Let us talk of 
this more calmly, dearest — I was wrong to 
agitate you — or to mix the miserable thoughts 
forced on me by my wretchedness— with the 
prudent consideration of your future destiny. 
I feel it to be unjust to keep you from your 
relations. They are rich. We are ignorant 
of what changes and losses may have taken 
place among them, to soften their hearts — 
which, after all, were never shut against you. 
You may have become of importance in their 
eyes. Raby is a proud name, and we must not 
heedlessly forego the advantages that may be- 
long to your right to it." 

" My dear father," replied Elizabeth, " this 
h3 



154 FALKNER. 

talk is not for me. I have no wish to claim 
the kindness of those who treated my true 
parents ill. You are every thing 1 to me. I am 
little more than a child, and cannot find words 
to express all I mean ; but my truest meaning 
is, to show my gratitude to you till my dying 
day ; to remain with you for ever, while you 
love me; and to be the most miserable creature 
in the world if you drive me from you. Have 
we not lived together since I was a little 
tiling, no higher than your knee ? And all the 
time you have been kinder than any father. 
When we have been exposed to storms, you 
have wrapped me round in your arms so that 
no drop could fall on my head. Do you re- 
member that dreadful evening, when our car- 
riage broke down in the wide, dark steppe ; 
and you, covering me up, carried me in your 
arms, while the wind howled, and the freez- 
ing rain drove against you ? You could hardly 
bear up ; and when we arrived at the post- 
house,, you, strong man as you are, fainted 



FALKNER. 155 

from exhaustion ; while I, sheltered in your 
arms, was as warm and well as if it had been a 
summer's day. You have earned me — you 
have bought me by all this kindness, and you 
must not cast me away!" 

She clung round his neck — her face bathed 
in tears, sobbing and speaking in broken 
accents. As she saw him soften, she implored 
him yet more earnestly, till his heart was quite 
subdued ; and, clasping her to his heart, he 
showered kisses on her head and neck ; while, 
to his surprise, forgotten tears sprung to his 
own eyes. " For worlds I would not desert 
you," he cried. " It is not casting you away 
that we should separate for a short time ; for 
where I go, indeed, dearest, you cannot ac- 
company me. I cannot go on living as I have 
done. For many years now my life has been 
spent in pleasantness and peace — I have no 
right to this— hardship and toil, and death, I 
ought to repay. I abhor myself for a coward, 
when I think of what others suffer through 



156 FALKNER. 

my deeds — while I am scathless. You can 
scarcely remember the hour when the touch 
of your little hand saved my life. My heart 
is not changed since then — I am unworthy to 
exist. Dear Elizabeth, you may one day hate 
me, when you know the misery I have caused 
to those who deserved better at my hands. 
The cry of my victim rings in my ears, and I 
am base to survive my crime. Let me, dearest, 
make my own the praise, that nothing graced 
my life more than the leaving it. To live a 
coward and a drone, suits vilely with my former 
acts of violence and ill. Let me gain peace 
of mind by exposing my life to danger. By 
advocating a just cause I may bring a blessing 
down upon my endeavours. I shall go to 
Greece. Theirs is a good cause — that of li- 
berty and Christianity against tyranny and an 
evil faith. Let me die for it ; and when it is 
known, as it will one day be, that the innocent 
perished through me, it will be added, that 
I died in the defence of the suffering and 



FALKNER. 157 

the brave. But you cannot go with me to 
Greece, dearest ; you must await my return in 
this country." 

" You go to die!" she exclaimed, " and I 
am to be far away. No, dear father, I am a 
little girl, but no harm can happen to me. 
The Ionian Isles are under the English govern- 
ment — there, at least, I may go. Athens too, 
I dare say, is safe. Dear Athens — we spent a 
happy winter there before the revolution be- 
gan. You forget what a traveller I am — how 
accustomed to find my home among strangers 
in foreign and savage lands. No, dear father, 
you will not leave me behind. I am not un- 
reasonable — I do not ask to follow you to the 
camp — but you must let me be near — in the 
same country as yourself." 

" You force me to yield against my better 
reason," said Falkner. " This is not right — 
I feel that it is not so — one of your sex, and so 
young, ought not to be exposed to all I am 



FALKNER. 



about to encounter ; — and if I should die, and 
leave you there desolate?" 

" There are good Christians everywhere to 
protect the orphan," persisted Elizabeth. " As 
if you could die when I am with you ! And 
if you died while I was far, what would be- 
come of me ? Am I to be left, like a poor 
sailor's wife — to get a shocking, black-sealed 
letter, to tell me that, while I was enjoying 
myself, and hoping that you had long been 

? It is wicked to speak of these things 

— but I shall go with my own dear, dear 
father, and he shall not die !" 

Falkner yielded to her tears, her caresses, 
and persuasions. He was not convinced, but 
he could not withstand the excess of grief she 
displayed at the thought of parting. It was 
agreed that she should accompany him to the 
Ionian Isles, and take up her residence there 
while he joined the patriot band in Greece. 
This point being decided upon, he was anxious 



FALKNER. 159 

that their departure should not be delayed a 
single hour, for most earnest was he to go, to 
throw off the sense of the present — to forget 
its pangs in anticipated danger. 

Falkner played no false part with himself. 
He longed to die ; nor did the tenderness and 
fidelity of Elizabeth disarm his purpose. He 
was convinced that she must be happier and 
more prosperous when he was removed. His 
tortured mind found relief when he thought 
of sacrificing his life, and quitting it honour- 
ably on the field of battle. It was only by 
the prospect of such a fate that he shut his 
eyes to sterner duties. In his secret heart, 
he knew that the course demanded of him by 
honour and conscience, was to stand forth, 
declare his crime, and reveal the mysterious 
tragedy, of which he was the occasion, to the 
world ; but he dared not accuse himself, and 
live. It was this that urged him to the thoughts 
of death. " When I am no more," he told him- 
self, " let all be declared — let my name be 



160 FALKNER. 

loaded with curses — but let it be added, that I 
died to expiate my guilt. I cannot be called 
upon to live with a brand upon my name ; 
soon it will be all over, and then let them 
heap obloquy, pyramid-high, upon my grave ! 
Poor Elizabeth will become a Raby ; and, 
once cold beneath the sod, no more misery 
will spring from acts of mine !" 

Actuated by these thoughts, Falkner drew 
up two narratives — both short. The tenor of 
one need not be mentioned in this place. The 
other stated how he had found Elizabeth, and 
adopted her. He sealed up with this the few 
documents that proved her birth. He also 
made his will — dividing his property between 
his heir at law and adopted child — and smiled 
proudly to think, that, dowered thus by him, 
she would be gladly received into her father's 
family. 

Every olher arrangement for their voy- 
age was quickly made, and it remained only 
to determine whether Miss Jervis should 



FALKNER. 161 

accompany them. Elizabeth's mind was di- 
vided. She was averse to parting with 
an unoffending and kind companion, and to 
forego her instructions — though, in truth, 
she had got beyond them. But she feared 
that the governess might hereafter shackle 
her conduct. Every word Falkner had let 
fall concerning his desire to die, she remem- 
bered and pondered upon. To watch over 
and to serve him was her aim in going with 
him. Child as she was, a thousand combina- 
tions of danger presented themselves to her 
imagination, when her resolution and fearless- 
ness might bring safety. The narrow views 
and timid disposition of Miss Jervis might 
impede her grievously. 

The governess herself was perplexed. She 
was startled when she heard of the new 
scheme. She was pleased to find herself once 
again in England, and repugnant to the idea 
of leaving so soon again for so distant a 
region, where a thousand perils of war and 



162 FALKNER. 

pestilence would beset every step. She was 
sorry to part with Elizabeth, but some day 
that time must come ; and others, dearer from 
ties of relationship, lived in England from 
whom she had been too long divided. Weigh- 
ing these things, she showed a degree of hesita- 
tion that caused Falkner to decide as his heart 
inclined, and to determine that she should not 
accompany him. She went with them as far 
as Plymouth, where they embarked. Elizabeth, 
so long a wanderer, felt no regret in leaving 
England. She was to remain with one who 
was far more than country — who was indeed 
her all. Falkner felt a load taken from his 
heart when his feet touched the deck of the 
vessel that was to bear them away — half his 
duty was accomplished — the course begun 
which would lead to the catastrophe he 
coveted. The sun shone brightly on the 
ocean, the breeze was fresh and favourable. 
Miss Jervis saw them push from shore with 
smiles and happy looks — she saw them on the 



FALKNER. 163 

deck of the vessel, which, with sails unfurled, 
had already begun its course over the sea. 
Elizabeth waved her handkerchief — all grew 
confused ; the vessel itself was sinking 
beneath the horizon, and long before night 
no portion of her canvass could be perceived. 
" I wonder," thought Miss Jervis, "whe- 
ther I shall ever see them again !" 



164 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER IX. 



Three years from this time, Elizabeth 
found herself in the position she had vaguely 
anticipated at the outset, but which every day 
spent in Greece showed her as probable, if 
not inevitable. These three years brought 
Falkner to the verge of the death he had gone 
out to seek. He lay wounded, a prey of the 
Greek fever, to all appearance about to die ; 
while she watched over him, striving, not 
only to avert the fatal consequences of disease, 
but also to combat the desire to die which 
destroyed him. 



FALKNEE. 



165 



In describing Elizabeth's conduct during 
these three years, it may be thought that the 
type is presented of ideal and almost un- 
natural perfection. She was, it is true, a 
remarkable creature ; and unless she had 
possessed rare and exalted qualities, her 
history had not afforded a topic for these 
pages. She was intelligent, warm-hearted, 
courageous, and sincere. Her lively sense 
of duty was perhaps her chief peculiarity. 
It was that which strung to such sweet har- 
mony the other portions of her character. 
This had been fostered by the circumstances 
of her life. Her earliest recollection was of 
her dying parents. Their mutual consola- 
tions, the bereaved widow's lament, and her 
talk of another and better world, where all 
would meet again who fulfilled their part 
virtuously in this world. She had been 
taught to remember her parents as inheriting 
the immortal life promised to the just, and 
to aspire to the same. She had learnt, 



166 FALKNER. 

from her mother's example, that there is 
nothing so beautiful and praiseworthy as the 
sacrifice of life to the good and happiness of 
one beloved. She never forgot her debt to 
Falkner. She felt herself bound to him by 
stronger than filial ties. A father performs 
an imperious duty in cherishing his child ; 
but all had been spontaneous benevolence in 
Falkner. His very faults and passions made 
his sacrifice the greater, and his generosity 
the more conspicuous. Elizabeth believed 
that she could never adequately repay the 
vast obligation which she was under to him. 

Miss Jervis also had conduced to perfec- 
tionize her mind by adding to its harmony 
and justness. Miss Jervis, it is true, might 
be compared to the rough-handed gardener, 
whose labours are without elegance, and yet 
to whose waterings and vigilance the fragrant 
carnation owes its peculiar tint, and the wax- 
like camellia its especial variety. It was 
through her that she had methodized her 



FALKNER. 167 

mind — through her that she had learnt to con- 
centrate and prolong her attention, and to 
devote it to study. She had taught her order 
and industry — and, without knowing it, she 
had done more — she had inspired ardour for 
knowledge, delight in its acquisition, and a 
glad sense of self-approbation when difficulties 
were conquered by perseverance ; and, when 
by dint of resolution, ignorance was ex- 
changed for a clear perception of any portion 
of learning. 

It has been said that every clever person is, 
to a certain degree, mad. By which it is to be 
understood, that every person whose mind 
soars above the vulgar, has some exalted and 
disinterested object in view to which they are 
ready to sacrifice the common blessings of life. 
Thus, from the moment that Elizabeth had 
brought Falkner to consent to her accom- 
panying him to Greece, she had devoted her- 
self to the task, first of saving his life, if it 
should be in danger; and, secondly, of re- 



168 FALKNER. 

conciling him in the end to prolonged ex- 
istence. There were many difficulties which 
presented themselves, since she was unaware 
of the circumstances that drove him to seek 
death as a remedy and an atonement ; nor 
had she any desire to pry into her benefactor's 
secrets : in her own heart, she suspected an 
overstrained delicacy or generosity of feeling, 
which exaggerated error, and gave the sting to 
remorse. But whatever was the occasion of 
his sufferings, she dedicated herself to their 
relief; and resolved to educate herself so as 
to fulfil the task of reconciling him to life, to 
the best of her ability. 

Left at Zante, while he proceeded to join 
the patriot bands of Greece, she boarded in 
the house of a respectable family, but lived in 
the most retired manner possible. Her chief 
time was spent in study. She read to store 
her mind — to confirm its fortitude — to elevate 
its tone. She read also to acquire such 
precepts of philosophy and religion as might 



FALKNER. 



169 



best apply to her peculiar task, and to learn 
those secrets of life and death which Falkner's 
desire to die had brought so home to her 
juvenile imagination. 

If a time is to be named when the human 
heart is nearest moral perfection, most alive 
and yet most innocent, aspiring to good, 
without a knowledge of evil, the period at 
which Elizabeth had arrived, — from thirteen 
to sixteen, — is it. Vague forebodings are 
awakened ; a sense of the opening drama of 
life, unaccompanied with any longing to enter 
on it — that feeling is reserved for the years 
that follow ; but at fourteen and fifteen we 
only feel that we are emerging from childhood, 
and we rejoice, having yet a sense that as yet 
it is not fitting that we should make one of 
the real actors on the world's stage. A dreamy 
delicious period, when all is unknown ; and yet 
we feel that all is soon to be unveiled. The 
first pang has not been felt ; for we consider 
childhood's woes (real and frightful as those 

VOL. T. I 



170 FALKNER. 

sometimes are,) as puerile, and no longer 
belonging to us. We look upon the menaced 
evils of life as a fiction. How can care touch 
the soul which places its desires beyond low- 
minded thought ! Ingratitude, deceit, treason 
— these have not yet engendered distrust of 
others, nor have our own weaknesses and 
errors planted the thorn of self-disapprobation 
and regret. Solitude is no evil, for the 
thoughts are rife with busy visions ; and the 
shadows that flit around and people our reve- 
ries, have almost the substance and vitality of 
the actual world. 

Elizabeth was no dreamer. Though brought 
up abstracted from common worldly pursuits, 
there was something singularly practical about 
her. She aimed at being useful in all her 
reveries. This desire was rendered still more 
fervent by her affection for Falkner — by her 
fears on his account — by her ardent wish to 
make life dear to him. All her employments, 
all her pleasures, referred themselves, as it 



FALKNER. 171 

were, to this primary motive, and were entirely 
ruled by it. 

She portioned out the hours of each day, 
and adhered steadily to her self-imposed rules. 
To the early morning's ride, succeeded her 
various studies, of which music, for which she 
developed a true ear and delicate taste, formed 
one ; one occupation relieved the other ; from 
her dear books she had recourse to her needle, 
and, bending over her embroidery frame, she 
meditated on what she read ; or, occupied by 
many conjectures and many airy dreams con- 
cerning Falkner, she became absorbed in 
reverie. Sometimes, from the immediate 
object of these, her memory reverted to the 
melancholy boy she had seen at Baden. His 
wild eyes — his haughty glance — his lively 
solicitude about the animal he had hurt, and 
uncomplaining fortitude with which he had 
endured bodily pain, were often present to her. 
She wished that they had not quitted Baden 
so suddenly : if they had remained but a few 

i 2 



172 FALKNER. 

days longer, he might have learnt to love 
them ; and even now he might be with Falkner, 
sharing his clangers, it is true, but also each 
guarding the other from that rash contempt 
of life in which they both indulged. 

Her whole mind being filled by duties and 
affection, each day seemed short, yet each was 
varied. At dawn she rose lightly from her 
!>ed, and looked out over the blue sea and 
rocky shore ; she prayed, as she gazed, for the 
safety of her benefactor ; and her thoughts, 
soaring to her mother in heaven, asked her 
blessing to descend upon her child. Morning 
was not so fresh as her, as she met its first 
sweet breath ; and, cantering along the beach, 
she thought of Falkner — his absence, his toils 
and dangers — with resignation, mingled with a 
hope that warmed into an ardent desire to see 
him again. Surely there is no object so sweet 
as the young in solitude. In after years — 
when death has bereaved us of the dearest — 
when cares, and regrets, and fears, and 



FALKKER. 173 

passions, evil either in their nature or their 
results, have stained our lives with black, 
solitude is too sadly peopled to be pleasing ; 
and when we see one of mature years alone, 
we believe that sadness must be the companion. 
But the solitary thoughts of the young are 
glorious dreams, — 

their state, 

Like to a lark at break of day arising 

From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate. 

To behold this young and lovely girl wandering 
by the lonely shore, her thoughts her only 
companions ; love for her benefactor her only 
passion, no touch of earth and its sordid woes 
about her, it was as if a new Eve, watched 
over by angels, had been placed in the dese- 
crated land, and the very ground she trod grew 
into paradise. 

Sometimes the day was sadly chequered 
by bad news brought from the continent of 
Greece. Sometimes it was rendered joyous 
by the arrival of a letter from her adored 



174 FALKNER. 

father. Sometimes he was with her, and he, 
animated by the sense of danger, and the 
knowledge of his usefulness to the cause he 
espoused, was eloquent in his narrations, 
overflowing in his affection to her, and almost 
happy in the belief that he was atoning for 
the past. The idea that he should fall in the 
fields of Greece, and wash out with his heart's 
blood the dark blot on his name, gave an 
elevation to his thoughts, a strained and eager 
courage and fortitude that accorded with his 
fiery character. He was born to be a soldier; 
not the military man of modern days, but the 
hero who exposed his life without fear, and 
found joy in battle and hard-earned victory, 
when these were sought and won for a good 
cause, from the cruel oppressor. 



FALKNER. 175 



CHAPTER X. 



During Falkner's visits to Zante, Elizabeth 
had been led to remark the faithful attentions 
of his chief follower, an Albanian Greek. 
This man had complained to his young mis- 
tress of the recklessness with which Falkner 
exposed himself — of the incredible fatigue he 
underwent — and his belief that he must ere 
long fall a victim to his disdain of safety and 
repose ; which, while it augmented the admi- 
ration his courage excited, was yet not called 
for by the circumstances of the times. He 
would have been termed rash and fool-hardy, 



176 FALKNEli. 

but that he maintained a dignified composure 
throughout, joined to military skill and fer- 
tility of resource ; and while contempt of life 
led him invariably to select the post of danger 
for himself, he was sedulous to preserve the 
lives of those under his command. His early 
life had familiarized him with the practices of 
war. He was a valuable officer; kind to his 
men, and careful to supply their wants, while 
he contended for no vain distinctions; and 
was ready, on all occasions, to undertake such 
duties as others shrunk from, as leading to 
certain death. 

Elizabeth listened to Vasili's account of his 
hair-breadth escapes, his toils, and desperate 
valour, with tearful eyes and an aching heart. 
" Oh! that I could attach him to life!" she 
thought. She never complained to him, nor 
persuaded him to alter his desperate purpose, 
but redoubled her affectionate attentions. 
When he left her, after a hurried visit, she 
did not beseech him to preserve himself ; but 



FALKNER. 177 

her tearful eyes, the agony with which she 
returned his parting embrace, her despondent 
attitude as his bark left the shore ; and when 
he returned, her eager joy — her eye lighted 
up with thankful love — all bespoke emotions 
that needed no other interpreter, and which 
often made him half shrink from acting up to 
the belief he had arrived at, that he ought to 
die, and that he could only escape worse ana 
ignominious evils, by a present and honour- 
able death. 

As time passed on — as by the arrival of the 
forces from Egypt the warfare grew more 
keen and perilous — as Vasili renewed the sad 
tale of his perils at each visit, with some added 
story of lately and narrowly escaped peril — 
fear began to make too large and engrossing 
a portion of her daily thoughts. She ceased 
to take in the ideas as she read — her needle 
dropped from her hand — and, as she played, 
the music brought streams of tears from her 
eyes, to think of the scene of desolation and 

i 3 



178 FALKNER. 

suffering in which she felt that she should 
soon be called upon to take a part. There 
was no help or hope, and she must early learn 
the woman's first and hardest lesson, to bear 
in silence the advance of an evil, which might 
be avoided, but for the unconquerable will of 
another. Almost she could have called her 
father cruel, had not the remembrance of the 
misery that drove him to desperation, inspired 
pity, instead of selfish resentment. 

He had passed a few days with her, and 
the intercourse they held, had been more 
intimate and more affectionate than ever. As 
she grew older, her mind enriched by culti- 
vation, and developed by the ardour of her 
attachment, grew more on an equality with 
his experienced one, than could have been 
the case in mere childhood. They did not 
take the usual position of father and child, — 
the instructor and instructed — the commander 
and the obedient — 



FALKNER. 179 

They talked with open heart, and tongue 
Affectionate and true, 
A pair of friends. — 

And the inequality which made her depend on 
him, and caused him to regard her as the 
creature who was to prolong his existence, as 
it were, beyond the grave, into which he 
believed himself to be descending, gave a 
touch of something melancholy to their sym- 
pathy, without which, in this shadowy world, 
nothing seems beautiful and enduring. 

He left her; and his little bark, under press 
of sail, sped merrily through the waves. She 
stood to watch — her heart warmed by the recol- 
lection of his fervent affection — his attentive 
kindness. He had ever been brave and 
generous ; but now he had become so sympa- 
thising and gentle, that she hoped that the 
time was not far off when moral courage 
would spring from that personal hardihood 
which is at once so glorious and so fearful. 
4 God shield you, my father!" she thought, 



180 FALKNER. 

" God preserve you, my more than father, for 
happier thoughts and better days ! For the 
full enjoyment of, and control over, those 
splendid qualities with which nature has gifted 
you! 

Such was the tenor of her thoughts. En- 
thusiasm mingled with fond solicitude — and 
thus she continued her anxious watchings. 
By every opportunity she received brief 
letters, breathing affection, yet containing no 
word of self. Sometimes a phrase occurred 
directing her what to do if any thing fatal 
occurred to him, which startled and pained 
her ; but there was nothing else that spoke 
of death — nor any allusion to his distaste 
for life. Autumn was far advanced — the 
sounds of war were somewhat lulled ; and, 
except in small skirmishing parties, that met 
and fought under cover of the ravines and 
woods, all was quiet. Elizabeth felt less 
fearful than usual. She wrote to ask when 
Falkner would again visit her ; and he, in 



FALKNER. 181 

reply, promised so to do, immediately after 
a meditated attack on a small fortress, the 
carrying of which was of the first import to 
the safe quartering of his little troop during 
the winter. She read this with delight — she 
solaced herself with the prospect of a speedier 
and longer visit than usual ; with childish 
thoughtlessness she forgot that the attack on 
the town was a work of war, and might bring 
with it the fatal results of mortal struggle. 

A few days after, a small, ill-looking letter 
was put into her hands — it was written in 
Romaic, and the meaning of its illegible 
ciphers could only be guessed at by a Greek. 
It was from Vasili — to tell her, in few 
words, that Falkner was lying in a small vil- 
lage, not far from the sea coast, opposite 
Zante. It mentioned that he had been long 
suffering from the Greek fever ; and having 
been badly wounded in the late attack, the 
combined effects of wound and malady left 
little hopes of recovery ; while the fatal 



182 FALKNER. 

moment was hastened by the absence of all 
medical assistance — the miserable state of the 
village where he was lying — and the bad air 
of the country around. 

Elizabeth read as if in a dream — the mo- 
ment then had come, the fatal moment which 
she had often contemplated with terror, and 
prayed Heaven to avert — she grew pale and 
trembling ; but again in a moment she re- 
called her presence of mind, and summoned 
all the resolution she had endeavoured to store 
up to assist her at this extremity. She went 
herself to the chief English authority in the 
island — and obtained an order for a vessel to 
bring him off — instantly she embarked. She 
neither wept nor spoke ; but sitting on the 
deck, tearless and pale, she prayed for speed, 
and that she might not find him dead. A 
few hours brought her to the desired port. 
Here a thousand difficulties awaited her — but 
she was not to be intimidated by all the 
threatened dangers — and only besought the 



FALKNER. 183 

people about her to admit of no excuses for 
delay. She was accompanied by an English 
surgeon and a few attendants. She longed 
to outspeed them all, and yet she commanded 
herself to direct every thing that was done ; 
nor did her heart quail when a few shot, and 
the cry of the men about her, spoke of the 
neighbourhood of the enemy. It proved a 
false alarm — the shots came from a straggling- 
party of Greeks— salutations were exchanged, 
and still she pushed on — her only thought 
was : — 6i Let me but find him alive — and then 
surely he will live !" 

As she passed along, the sallow counte- 
nances and wasted figures of the peasants 
spoke of the frightful ravages of the epidemic 
by which Falkner was attacked — and the 
squalidness of the cabins and the filth of the 
villages were sights to make her heart ache ; 
at length they drew near one which the guide 
told her was that named by Vasili. On in- 
quiring they were directed down a sort of lane 



184 FALKNER. 

to a wretched dilapidated dwelling — in the 
court-yard of which were a party of armed 
Greeks, gathered together in a sort of ominous 
silence. This was the abode of Falkner; she 
alighted — and in a few minutes Vasili pre- 
sented himself — his face painted with every 
mark of apprehension and sorrow — he led her 
on. The house was desolate beyond expres- 
sion — there was no furniture — no glass in the 
windows — no token of human habitation 
beyond the weather-stained walls. She entered 
the room where her father lay — some mat- 
trasses placed on the divan were all his bed — 
and there was nothing else in the room except 
a brazier to heat his food. Elizabeth drew 
near — and gazed in awe and grief. Already 
he was so changed that she could scarcely 
know him — his eyes sunk — his cheeks fallen, 
his brow streaked with pallid hues — a ghastly 
shadow lay upon his face, the apparent fore- 
runner of death. He had scarcely strength 
sufficient to raise his hand — and his voice was 



FALKNER. 185 

hollow — yet he smiled when he saw her —and 
that smile, the last refuge of the soul that 
informs our clay, and even sometimes survives 
it, was all his own ; it struck her to the heart — 
and her eyes were dimmed with tears while 
Vasili cast a wistful glance on her — as much 
as to say, " I have lost hope !" 

" Thank you for coming — yet you ought not 
to be here," hoarsely murmured the sick man. 
— Elizabeth kissed his hand and brow in 
answer — and despite of all her endeavours 
the tears fell from her eyes on his sunken 
cheek ; again he smiled. " It is not so bad," 
he said — " do not weep, I am willing to die ! 
I do not suffer very much — though I am weary 
of life."— 

The surgeon was now admitted. He exa- 
mined the wound, which was of a musket 
ball, in his side. He dressed it, and admi- 
nistered some potion, from which the patient 
received instant relief; and then joined the 



186 FALKNER. 

anxious girl, who had retired to another 
room. 

" He is in a very dangerous state," the 
surgeon remarked, in reply to her anxious 
looks. " Nothing certain can he pronounced 
yet. But our first care must be to remove 
him from this pestiferous place — the fever 
and wound combined, must destroy him. — 
Change of air may produce an amelioration 
in the former." 

With all the energy, which was her pro- 
minent characteristic, Elizabeth caused a 
litter to be prepared — horses hired and every 
thing arranged so that their journey might be 
commenced at day-break. Every one went 
early to rest, to enjoy some repose before the 
morrow's journey, except Elizabeth ; she spent 
the livelong night watching beside Falkner, 
marking each change, tortured by the groans 
that escaped him in sleep, or the suppressed 
complaints that fell from his lips — by the rest- 



FALKNER. 187 

lessness and fever that rendered each moment 
full of fate. The glimmering and dreary light 
of the lamp increased even the squalid and 
bare appearance of the wretched chamber in 
which he lay — Elizabeth gazed for a moment 
from the casement to see how moved the stars 
— and there, without — nature asserted herself 
— and it was the lovely land of Greece that 
met her eyes ; the southern night reigned in 
all its beauty — the stars hung refulgent lamps 
in the transparent ether — the fire-flies darted 
and wheeled among the olive groves or rested 
in the myrtle hedges, flashing intermittingly, 
and filling for an instant a small space around 
them with fairy brightness ; each form of tree, 
of rocky fragment, and broken upland, lay in 
calm and beautiful repose ; she turned to the 
low couch on which lay all her hope — her 
idolized father — the streaked brow — the nerve- 
less hand — half open eye, and hard breathing, 
betokened a frightful stage of weakness and 
suffering. 



188 



FALKNER. 



The scene brought unsought into her mind 
the lines of the English poet, which so touch- 
ingly describes the desolation of Greece, — 
blending the idea of mortal suffering with the 
long drawn calamities of that oppressed coun- 
try. The words, the lines, crowded on her 
memory ; and a chord was struck in her 
heart, as she ejaculated, " No! no, not so! 
Not the first day of death — not now, or ever!" 
As she spoke, she dissolved in tears — and 
weeping long and bitterly, she became after- 
wards calmer — the rest of her watch passed 
more peacefully. Even the patient suffered 
less as night verged into morning. 

At an early hour all was ready. Falkner 
was placed in the litter; and the little party, 
gladly leaving the precincts of the miserable 
village, proceeded slowly towards the sea 
shore. Every step was replete with pain 
and danger. Elizabeth was again all herself. 
Self-possessed and vigilant — she seemed at 
once to attain years of experience. No one 



FALKNER. 189 

could remember that it was a girl of sixteen 
who directed them. Hovering round the 
litter of the wounded man, and pointing out 
how best to carry him, so that he might suffer 
least — as the inequalities of the ground, the 
heights to climb, and the ravines to cross, 
made it a task of difficulty. Now and then 
the report of a musket was heard, sometimes 
a Greek cap — not unoften mistaken for a 
turban, peered above the precipice that over- 
looked the road — frequent alarms were given 
— but she was frightened by none. Her large 
eyes dilated and darkened as she looked to- 
wards the danger pointed out — and she drew 
nearer the litter, as a lonely mother might to 
the cradle of her child, when in the stillness 
of night some ravenous beast intruded on a 
savage solitude ; but she never spoke, except 
to point out the mistakes she was the first to 
perceive — or to order the men to proceed 
lightly, but without fear — nor to allow their 
progress to be checked by vain alarms. 



190 FALKNER. 

At length the sea shore was gained — and 
Falkner at last placed on the deck of the 
vessel — reposing after the torture which, des- 
pite every care, the journey had inflicted. 
Already Elizabeth believed that he was 
saved — and yet, one glance at his wan face, 
and emaciated figure re-awakened every fear 
He looked — and all around believed him to 
be — a dying man. 



FALKNER 191 



CHAPTER XL 



Arrived at Zante, placed in a cool and 
pleasant chamber, attended by a skilful 
surgeon— and watched over by the unsleeping 
vigilance of Elizabeth, Falkner slowly re- 
ceded from the shadow of death — whose livid 
hue had sat upon his countenance. Still 
health was far. His wound was attended 
by bad symptoms — and the fever eluded 
every attempt to dislodge it from his frame. 
He was but half saved from the grave ; ema- 
ciated and feeble, his disorder even tried to 
vanquish his mind ; but that resisted with 



192 FALKNER. 

more energy than his prostrate body. The 
death he had gone out to seek- -he awaited 
with courage — yet he no longer expressed an 
impatience of existence, but struggled to 
support with manly fortitude at once the 
inroads of disease, and the long nourished 
sickness of his soul. 

It had been a hard trial to Elizabeth to 
watch over him, while each day the surgeon's 
serious face gave no token of hope. But she 
would not despond, and in the end his re- 
covery was attributed to her careful nursing:. 
She never quitted his apartment, except for a 
few hours* sleep ; and even then, her bed was 
placed in the chamber adjoining his. If he 
moved, she was roused, and at his side, divin- 
ing the cause of his uneasiness, and alleviat- 
ing it. There were other nurses about him, 
and Vasili the most faithful of all — but she 
directed them, and brought that discernment 
and tact of which a woman only is capable. 
Her little soft hand smoothed his pillow, or 



FALKNER, 193 

placed upon his brow, cooled and refreshed 
him. She scarcely seemed to feel the effects 
of sleepless nights and watchful days — every 
minor sensation was merged in the hope and 
resolution to preserve him. 

Several months were passed in a state of 
the utmost solicitude. At last he grew a 
little better — the fever intermitted — and the 
wound gave signs of healing. On the first 
day that he was moved to an open alcove, 
and felt some enjoyment from the soft air 
of evening, all that Elizabeth had gone 
through was repaid. She sat on a low cushion 
near ; and his thin fingers, now resting on her 
head, now playing with the ringlets of her 
hair, gave token by that caress, that though 
he was silent and his look abstracted, his 
thoughts were occupied upon her. At length 
he said : — " Elizabeth, you have again saved 
my life." 

She looked up with a quick, glad look, and 
her eyes brightened with pleasure. 

vol. I. k 



194 FALKNER. 

"You have saved my life twice," he con- 
tinued ; " and through you, it seems, I am 
destined to live. I will not quarrel again with 
existence, since it is your gift; I will hope, 
prolonged as it has been by you, that it will 
prove beneficial to you. I have but one desire 
now — it is to be the source of happiness to you." 

" Live! dear father, live! and I must be 
happy !" she exclaimed. 

" God grant that it prove so !" he replied, 
pressing her hand to his lips. "The prayers 
of such as I, too often turn to curses. But 
you, my own dearest, must be blest ; and as 
my life is preserved, I must hope that this is 
done for your sake, and that you will derive 
some advantage from it." 

" Can you doubt it?" said Elizabeth. 
" Could I ever be consoled if T lost you? 
I have no other tie on earth — no other friend 
— nor do I wish for any. Only put aside your 
cruel thoughts of leaving me for ever, and 
every blessing is mine." 



FALKNER. 195 

" Dear, generous, faithful girl ! Yet the 
time will come when I shall not be all in all 
to you ; and then, will not my name — my 
adoption — prove a stumbling-block to your 
wishes ?" 

" How could that happen?" she said. "But 
do not, dear father, perplex yourself with look- 
ing either forward or backward — repose on 
the present, which has nothing in it to annoy 
you ; or rather, your gallantry — your devotion 
to the cause of an injured people, must in- 
spire you with feelings of self-gratulation, and 
speak peace to your troubles. Let the rest of 
your life pass away as a dream ; banish quite 
those thoughts that have hitherto made you 
wretched. Yourlife is saved, despite yourself. 
Accept existence as an immediate gift from 
heaven ; and begin life, from this moment, 
with new hopes, new resolves. Whatever 
your error was, which you so bitterly repent, 
it belonged to another state of being. Your 
remorse, your resignation, has effaced it ; or 

k 2 



196 FALKNER. 

if any evil results remain, you will rather 
exert yourself to repair them — than uselessly 
to lament. 

" To repair my error — my crime !" cried 
Falkner, in an altered voice, while a cloud 
gathered over his face, " No ! no ! that is 
impossible ! never till we meet in another life, 
can I offer reparation to the dead ! But I 
must not think of this now ; it is too ungrateful 
to you to dwell upon thoughts which would 
deliver me over to the tomb. Yet one thing 
I would say. I left a short detail in England 
of the miserable event that must at last 
destroy me, but it is brief and unsatisfactory. 
During my midnight watchings in Greece, I 
prepared a longer account. You know that 
little rosewood box, which, even when dying, 
I asked for ; it is now close to my bed ; the 
key is here attached to my watch-chain . That 
box contains the narrative of my crime ; when 
1 die, you will read it and judge me." 

"Never! never!" exclaimed Elizabeth, 



FALKNER. 197 

earnestly. " Dear father, how cruelly you have 
tormented yourself by dwelling on and writing 
about the past ! and do you think that I would 
ever read accusations against you, the guar- 
dian angel of my life, even though written by 
yourself? Let me bring the box— let me burn 
the papers — let no word remain to tell of 
misery you repent, and have atoned for." 

Falkner detained her, as she would have 
gone to execute her purpose. " Not alone for 
you, my child, " he said, " did I write, though 
hereafter, when you hear me accused, it may 
be satisfactory to learn the truth from my own 
hand. But there are others to satisfy— -an 
injured angel to be vindicated — a frightful 
mystery to be unveiled to the world. I have 
waited till I should die to fulfil this duty, 
and still, for your sake, I will wait ; for while 
you love me and bear my name, I will not 
cover it with obloquy. But if I die, this 
secret must not die with me. I will say no 
more now, nor ask any promises: when the 



198 PALKNER. 

time comes, you will understand and submit 
to the necessity that urged me to disclosure." 

" You shall be obeyed, I promise you," she 
replied. " I will never set my reason above 
yours, except in asking you to live for the sake 
of the poor little thing you have preserved. " 

"Have I preserved you, dearest? I often 
fear I did wrong in not restoring you to your 
natural relations. In making you mine, and 
linking you to my blighted fortunes, I may 
have prepared unnumbered ills for you. Oh, 
how sad a riddle is life ! we hear of the straight 
and narrow path of right in youth, and we 
disdain the precept ; and now would I were 
sitting among the nameless crowd on the 
common road-side, instead of wandering 
blindly in this dark desolation ; and you — I 
have brought you with me into the wilderness 
of error and suffering ; it was wrong — it was 
mere selfishness ; yet who could foresee ? " 

" Talk not of foreseeing," said Elizabeth, 
soothingly, as she pressed his thin hand to her 



FALKNER. 199 

warm young lips, " think only of the present ; 
you have made me yours for ever — you cannot 
cast me off without inflicting real pangs of 
misery, instead of those dreamy ills you speak 
of. I am happy with you, attending on, being 
of use to you. What would you more?" 

" Perhaps it is so," replied Falkner, "and 
your good and grateful heart will repay itself 
for all its sacrifices. I never can. Henceforth 
I will be guided by you, my Elizabeth. I will 
no longer think of what I have done, and what 
yet must be suffered, but wrap up my existence 
in you ; live in your smiles, your hopes, your 
affections." 

This interchange of heart-felt emotions did 
good to both. Perplexed, nay, tormented by 
conflicting duties, Falkner was led by her 
entreaties to dismiss the most painful of his 
thoughts, and to repose at last on those more 
healing. The evil and the good of the day, 
he resolved should henceforth be sufficient ; 
his duty towards Elizabeth was a primary one, 



200 FALKNER. 

and he would restrict himself to the perform- 
ing it. 

There is a magic in sympathy, and the 
heart's overflowing, that we feel as bliss, 
though we cannot explain it. This sort of joy 
Elizabeth felt after this conversation with her 
father. Their hearts had united ; they had 
mingled thought and sensation, and the inti- 
macy of affection that resulted was an ample 
reward to her for every suffering. She loved 
her benefactor with inexpressible truth and 
devotedness, and their entire and full inter- 
change of confidence gave a vivacity to this 
sentiment which of itself was happiness. 



FALKNER. 201 



CHAPTER XII. 



Though saved from immediate death, 
Falkner could hardly be called convalescent. 
His wound did not heal healthily, and the 
intermitting fever, returning again and again, 
laid him prostrate after he had acquired a 
little strength. After a winter full of danger, 
it was pronounced that the heats of a southern 
summer would probably prove fatal to him, 
and that he must be removed without delay to 
the bracing air of his native country. 

Towards the end of the month of April, they 
took their passage to Leghorn. It was a sad 

k 3 



202 FALKNER. 

departure; the more so that they were obliged 
to part with their Greek servant, on whose 
attachment Elizabeth so much depended. 
Vasili had entered into Falkner's service at 
the instigation of the Protokleft, or chief of 
his clan ; when the Englishman was obliged 
to abandon the cause of Greece, and return to 
his own country, Vasili, though lothe and 
weeping, went back to his native master. 
The young girl, being left without any at- 
tendant on whom she could wholly rely, felt 
singularly desolate ; for as her father lay on 
the deck, weak from the exertion of being 
removed, she felt that his life hung by a very 
slender thread, and she shrank half affrighted 
from what might ensue to her, friendless and 
alone. 

Her presence of mind and apparent cheer- 
fulness was never, however, diminished by 
these secret misgivings ; and she sat by her 
father's low couch, and placed her hands in 
his, speaking encouragingly, while her eyes 



FALKNER. 203 

filled with tears as the rocky shores of Zante 
became indistinct and vanished. 

Their voyage was without any ill accident, 
except that the warm south-east wind, which 
favoured their navigation, sensibly weakened 
the patient ; and Elizabeth grew more and 
more eager to proceed northward. At Leg- 
horn they were detained by a long and vexa- 
tious quarantine. The summer had com- 
menced early, with great heats; and the 
detention of several weeks in the lazaretto 
nearly brought about what they had left 
Greece to escape. Falkner grew worse. The 
sea breezes a little mitigated his suffering's ; 
but life was worn away by repeated struggles, 
and the most frightful debility threatened 
his frame with speedy dissolution. How could 
it be otherwise? He had wished to die. He 
sought death where it lurked insidiously in 
the balmy airs of Greece, or met it openly 
armed against him on the field of battle. 
Death wielded many weapons ; and he was 



204 FALKNER. 

struck by many, and the most dangerous. 
Elizabeth hoped, in spite of despair; yet, 
if called away from him, her heart throbbed 
wildly as she re-entered his apartment ; there 
was no moment when the fear did not assail 
her, that she might, on a sudden, hear and 
see that all was over. 

An incident happened at this period, to 
which Elizabeth paid little attention at the 
time, engrossed as she was by mortal fears. 
They had been in quarantine about a fort- 
night, when, one day, there entered the 
gloomy precincts of the lazaretto, a tribe of 
English people. Such a horde of men, wo- 
men, and children, as gives foreigners a 
lively belief that we islanders are all mad, 
to migrate in this way, with the young and 
helpless, from comfortable homes, in search 
of the dangerous and comfortless. This 
roving band consisted of the eldest son of an 
English nobleman and his wife — four children, 
the eldest being six years old— a governess — 



FALKNER. 205 

three nursery-maids, two lady's maids, and a 
sufficient appendage of men-servants. They 
had all just arrived from viewing the pyramids 
of Egypt. The noise and bustle — the servants 
insisting on making every body comfortable, 
where comfort was not — the spreading out 
of all their own camp apparatus — joined to the 
seeming indifference of the parties chiefly con- 
cerned, and the unconstrained astonishment of 
the Italians — was very amusing. Lord Cecil, 
a tall, thin, plain, quiet, aristocratic-looking 
man, of middle age, dropped into the first chair 
— called for his writing-case — began a letter, 
and saw and heard nothing that was going 
on. Lady Cecil — who was not pretty, but 
lively and elegant — was surrounded by her 
children — they seemed so many little angels, 
with blooming cheeks and golden hair — the 
youngest cherub slept profoundly amidst the 
din ; the others were looking eagerly out for 
their dinner. 

Elizabeth had seen their entrance—she saw 



206 FALKNER. 

them walking in the garden of the lazaretto 
— one figure, the governess, though disguised 
by a green shade over her eyes, she recognized 
— it was Miss Jervis. Desolate and sad as the 
poor girl was, a familiar face and voice was a 
cordial drop to comfort her ; and Miss Jervis 
was infinitely delighted to meet her former pu- 
pil. She usually looked on those intrusted to 
her care as a part of the machinery that sup- 
ported her life ; but Elizabeth had become dear 
to her from the irresistible attraction that 
hovered round her — arising from her careless- 
ness of self, and her touching sensibility to the 
sufferings of all around. She had often re- 
gretted having quitted her, and she now ex- 
pressed this, and even her silence grew into 
something like talkativeness upon the unex- 
pected meeting. "I am very unlucky," she 
said ; c ' I would rather, if I could with propriety, 
live in the meanest lodging in London, than 
in the grandest tumble-down palace of the East, 
which people are pleased to call so fine — I am 



FALKNER. 207 

sure they are always dirty and out of order. 
Lady Glenfell recommended me to Lady Cecil — 
and, certainly, a more generous and sweet-tem- 
pered woman does not exist — and I was very 

comfortable, living at the Earl of G 's seat 

in Hampshire, and having almost all my time 
to myself. One day, to my misfortune, Lady 
Cecil made a scheme to travel — to get out of 
her father-in-law's way, I believe — he is rather 
a tiresome old man. Lord Cecil does any 
thing she likes. All was arranged, and I 
really thought I should leave them — I so hated 
the idea of going abroad agai^ but Lady Cecil 
said that I should be quite a treasure, hav- 
ing been everywhere, and knowing so many 
languages, and that she should have never 
thought of going, but from my being with 
her ; so, in short, she was very generous, and I 
could not say no : accordingly we set out on 
our travels, and went first to Portugal — where 
I had never been — and do not know a word 
of Portuguese ; and then through Spain — 



208 FALKNER. 

and Spanish is Greek to me — and worse — for 
I do know a good deal of Romaic. I am sure 
I do not know scarcely where we went — but 
our last journey was to see the pyramids of 
Egypt — only, unfortunately, I caught the oph- 
thalmia the moment we got to Alexandria, and 
could never bear to see a ray of light the whole 
time we were in that country." 

As they talked, Lady Cecil came to join 
her children. She was struck by Elizabeth's 
beaming and noble countenance, which bore 
the impress of high thought, and elevated sen- 
timents. Her figure, too, had sprung up into 
womanhood — tall and graceful — there was an 
elasticity joined to much majesty in all her 
appearance ; not the majesty of assumption, 
but the stamp of natural grandeur of soul, re- 
fined by education, and softened by sympa- 
thetic kindness for the meanest thing that 
breathed. Her dignity did not spring in the 
slightest degree from self- worship, but simply 
from a reliance on her own powers, and a 



FALKKER. 209 

forgetfulness of every triviality which haunts 
the petty-minded. No one could chance to 
see her, without stopping to gaze ; and her 
peculiar circumstances — the affectionate and 
anxious daughter of a dying man — without 
friend or support, except her own courage and 
patience — never daunted, yet always fearfully 
alive to his danger — rendered her infinitely 
interesting to one of her own sex. Lady Cecil 
was introduced to her by Miss Jervis, and was 
eager to show her kindness. She offered that 
they should travel together ; but as Elizabeth's 
quarantine was out long before that of the new 
comers, and she was anxious to reach a more 
temperate climate, she refused ; yet she was 
thankful, and charmed by the sweetness and 
cordiality of her new acquaintance. 

Lady Cecil was not handsome, but there was 
something, not exactly amounting to fasci- 
nation, but infinitely taking in her manner 
and appearance. — Her cheerfulness, good- 
nature, and high breeding, diffused a grace and 



210 



FALKNER. 



a pleasurable easiness over her manners, that 
charmed every body ; good sense and vivacity, 
never loud nor ever dull, rendered her spirits 
agreeable. She was apparently the same to 
every body ; but she well knew how to regu- 
late the inner spirit of her attentions while 
their surface looked so equal : no one ven- 
tured to go beyond her wishes, — and where 
she wished, any one was astonished to find 
how far they could depend on her sincerity 
and friendliness. Had Elizabeth's spirit been 
more free, she had been delighted ; as it was, 
she felt thankful, merely for a kindness that 
availed her nothing. 

Lady Cecil viewed the dying Falkner and 
his devoted, affectionate daughter with the 
sincerest compassion; dying she thought him, 
for he was wasted to a shadow, his cheeks 
colourless, his hands yellow and thin — he could 
not stand upright — and when, in the cool of 
evening, he was carried into the open air, 
he seemed scarcely able to speak from very 



FALKNER. 211 

feebleness. Elizabeth's face bespoke continual 
anxiety ; her vigilance, her patience, her grief, 
and her resignation, formed a touching picture 
which it was impossible to contemplate without 
admiration. Ladv Cecil often tried to win 
her away from her father's couch, and to give 
herself a little repose from perpetual attend- 
ance ; she yielded but for a minute ; while 
she conversed, she assumed cheerfulness — but 
in a moment after, she had glided back and 
taken her accustomed place at her father's 
pillow. 

At length their prison-gates were opened, 
and Falkner was borne on board a felucca, 
bound for Genoa. Elizabeth took leave of 
her new friend, and promised to write, but 
while she spoke, she forgot what she said — 
for, dreading at each moment the death of her 
benefactor, she did not dare look forward, and 
had little heart to go beyond the circle of her 
immediate, though dreary sensations. A fair 
wind bore them to Genoa, and Falkner sus- 



212 FALKNER. 

tained the journey very well : at Genoa they 
transferred themselves to another vessel, and 
each mile they gained towards France light- 
ened the fears of Elizabeth. But this portion 
of their voyage was not destined to be so pros- 
perous. They had embarked at night, and 
had made some way during the first hours ; 
but by noon on the following day they were 
becalmed ; the small vessel — the burning sun 
— the shocking smells — the want of all com- 
fortable accommodation, combined to bring on 
a relapse — and again Falkner seemed dying. 
The very crew were struck with pity ; while 
Elizabeth, wild almost with terror, and the 
impotent wish to save, preserved an outward 
calm, more shocking almost than shrieks and 
cries. At evening she caused him to be carried 
on the deck, and placed on a couch, with a 
little sort of shed prepared for him there ; 
he was too much debilitated to feel any great 
degree of relief — there was a ghastly hue set- 
tled on his face that seemed gradually sinking 



FALK> T ER. 213 

into death. Elizabeth's courage almost gave 
way ; there was no physician, no friend ; the 
servants were frightened, the crew pitying, 
but none could help. 

As this sense of desertion grew strong, a 
despair she had never felt before invaded her ; 
and it was as she thus hung over Falkner's 
couch, the tears fast gathering in her eyes, and 
striving to check the convulsive throb that 
rose in her throat, that a gentle voice said, 
" Let me place this pillow under your father's 
head, he will rest more quietly." The voice 
came as from a guardian angel ; she looked 
up thankfully, the pillow was placed, some 
drink administered, a sail extended, so as to 
shield him from the evening sun, and a variety 
of little attentions paid, which evidently 
solaced the invalid; and the evening breeze 
rising as the sun went down, the air grew cool, 
and he sunk at last into a profound sleep. 
When night came on, the stranger conjured 
Elizabeth to take some repose, promising to 



214 FALKNER. 

watch by Falkner. She could not resist the 
entreaty, which was urged with sincere 
earnestness ; going down, she found a couch 
had been prepared for her with almost a 
woman's care by the stranger; and before she 
slept, he knocked at her door to tell her — 
Falkner having awoke, expressed himself as 
much easier, and very glad to hear that 
Elizabeth had retired to rest ; after this he 
had dropped asleep again. 

It was a new and pleasant sensation to the 
lone girl to feel that there was one sharing 
her task, on whom she might rely. She had 
scarcely looked at or attended to the stranger 
while on deck; she only perceived that he was 
English, and that he was young ; but now, in 
the quiet that preceded her falling asleep, his 
low, melodious voice sounded sweetly in her 
ears, and the melancholy and earnest expression 
of his handsome countenance reminded her of 
some one she had seen before, probably a 
Greek ; for there was something almost foreign 



FALKNER. 



215 



inhis olive complexion, his soft, dark eyes, 
and the air of sentiment, mingled with a sort 
of poetic fervour, that characterized his coun- 
tenance. With these thoughts Elizabeth fell 
asleep, and when early in the morning she 
rose, and made what haste she could to visit 
the little sort of hut erected for her father on 
deck, the first person she saw was the stranger, 
leaning on the bulwark, and looking on the 
sea with an air of softness and sadness that 
excited her sympathy. He greeted her with 
extreme kindness. " Your father is awake, 
and has inquired for you;" he said. Elizabeth, 
after thanking him, took her accustomed post 
beside Falkner. He might be better, but he 
was too weak to make much sign, and one 
glance at his colourless face renewed all her 
half- forgotten terrors. 

Meanwhile the breeze freshened, and the 
vessel scudded through the blue sparkling 
waves. The heats of noon, though tempered 
by the gale, still had a bad effect on Falkner ; 



216 FALKNER. 

and when, at about five in the evening — often 
in the south the hottest portion of the day, the 
air being thoroughly penetrated by the sun's 
rays — they arrived at Marseilles, it became 
a task of some difficulty to remove him. 
Elizabeth and the stranger had interchanged 
little talk during the day ; but he now came 
forward to assist in removing him to the boat 
— acting, without question, as if he had been 
her brother, guessing, as if by instinct, the 
best thing to be done, and performing all with 
activity and zeal. Poor Elizabeth, cast on 
these difficult circumstances, without relation 
or friend, looked on him as a guardian angel, 
consulted him freely, and witnessed' his exer- 
tions in her behalf in a transport of gratitude. 
He did every thing for her, and would sit for 
hours in the room at the hotel, next to that 
in which Falkner lay, waiting to hear how he 
was, and if there was any thing to be done. 
Elizabeth joined him now and then ; they 
were in a manner already intimate, though 



FALKNER. 



217 



strangers; he took a lively interest in her 
anxieties, and she looked towards him for 
advice and help, relied on his counsels, and 
was encouraged by his consolations. It was 
the first time she had felt any friendship or 
confidence, except in Falkner; but it was 
impossible not. to be won by her new friend's 
gentleness, and almost feminine delicacy of 
attention, joined to all a man's activity and 
readiness to do the thing that was necessary 
to be done. " I have an adopted father," 
thought Elizabeth, "and this seems a brother 
dropped from the clouds." He was of an age 
to be her brother, but few years older; in all 
the ardour and grace of early manhood, when 
developed in one of happy nature, unsoiled by 
the world. 

Elizabeth, however, remained but a few 
days at Marseilles — it was of the first necessity 
to escape the southern heats, and Falkner 
was pronounced able to bear the voyage 
up the Rhone. The stranger showed some 

VOL. I. l 



218 FALKNER. 

sadness at the idea of being left behind. 
In truth, if Elizabeth was gladdened and 
comforted by her new friend — he felt double 
pleasure in the contemplation of her beauty 
and admirable qualities. No word of self 
ever passed her lips. All thought, all care, 
was spent on him she called her father — and 
the stranger was deeply touched by her de- 
monstrations of filial affection — her total ab- 
negation of every feeling that did not centre 
in his comfort and recovery. He had been 
present one evening — though standing apart, 
when Falkner, awakening from sleep, spoke 
with regret of the fatigue Elizabeth endured, 
and the worthlessness of his life compared 
with all that she went through for his sake. 
Elizabeth replied at once with such energy 
of affection, such touching representation of 
the comfort she derived from his returning 
health, and such earnest entreaties for him to 
love life, that the stranger listened as if an 
angel spoke. Falkner answered, but the re- 



FALKNER. 219 

morse that burthened his heart gave some- 
thing of bitterness to his reply. And her 
eloquent, though gentle solicitations, that he 
would look on life in a better and nobler light 
— not rashly to leave its duties here, to en- 
counter those he knew not of, in an existence 
beyond ; and kind intimations, which exalting 
his repentance into a virtue, might reconcile 
him to himself — all this won the listener to a 
deep and wondering admiration. Not in hu- 
man form had he ever seen embodied so much 
wisdom, and so much strong, yet tender emo- 
tion — none but woman could feel thus, but it 
was beyond woman to speak and to endure as 
she did. She spoke only just so openly, re- 
membering the stranger's presence, as to cast a 
veil over her actual relationship to Falkner, 
whom she called and wished to have believed 
to be her true father. 

The fever of the sufferer being abated, a day 
was fixed for their departure from Marseilles. 
Their new friend appeared to show some incli- 

l2 



220 FALKNER. 

nation to accompany them in their river navi- 
gation as far as Lyons. Elizabeth thanked him 
with her gladdened eyes ; she had felt the want 
of support, or rather she had experienced the 
inestimable benefit of being supported, during 
the sad crisis now and then brought about by 
Falkner's changeful illness ; there was some- 
thing, too, in the stranger very attractive, not 
the less so for the melancholy which often 
quenched the latent fire of his nature. That 
his disposition was really ardent, and even 
vivacious, many little incidents, when he ap- 
peared to forget himself, evinced — nay, some- 
times his very gloom merged into sullen 
savageness, that showed that coldness was not 
the secret of his frequent fits of abstraction. 
Once or twice, on these occasions, Elizabeth 
was reminded, she knew not of whom — but 
some one she had seen before — till one day it 
flashed across her; could it be the sullen, 
solitary boy of Baden! Singularly enough, 
she did not even know her new friend's name ; 



FALKNER. 22] 

to those accustomed to foreign servants this 
will not appear strange ; he was their only 
visitor, and " le monsieur" was sufficient 
announcement when he arrived — but Eliza- 
beth remembered well that the youth's name 
was Neville — and, on inquiry, she learnt that 
this also was the appellation of her new ac- 
quaintance. 

She now regarded him with greater interest. 
She recalled her girlish wish that he should 
reside with them, and benefit by the kindness 
of Falkner — hoping that his sullenness would 
be softened, and his gloom dissipated, by the 
affectionate attentions he would receive. She 
wished to discover in what degree time and 
other circumstances had operated to bring 
about the amelioration she had wished to be an 
instrument in achieving. He was altered — he 
was no longer fierce nor sullen — yet he was still 
melancholy, and still unhappy — and she could 
discern that as his former mood had been pro- 



222 FALKNER. 

duced by the vehemence of his character fret- 
ting against the misfortunes of his lot ; so it 
was by subduing every violence of temper that 
the change was operated — and she suspected 
that the causes that originally produced his 
unhappiness still remained. Yet violence of 
temper is not a right word to use ; his temper 
was eminently sweet — he had a boiling ardour 
within — a fervent and a warm heart, which 
might produce vehemence of feeling, but 
never asperity of temper. All this Elizabeth 
remarked — and, as before, she longed to dis- 
sipate the melancholy that so evidently clouded 
his mind ; and again she indulged fancies, that 
if he accompanied them, and was drawn near 
them, the affection he would receive must 
dissipate a sadness created by unfortunate cir- 
cumstances in early youth — but not the growth 
of a saturnine disposition. She pitied him 
intensely, for she saw that he was often 
speechlessly wretched ; but she reverenced his 



FALKNER. 223 

self-control, and the manner in which he 
threw off all his own engrossing feelings to 
sympathize with, and assist her. 

They were now soon to depart, and Eliza- 
beth was not quite sure whether Neville was 
to accompany them — he had gone to the boat 
to look after some arrangements made for the 
patient's comfort — and she sat with the invalid, 
expecting his return. Falkner reclined near 
a window, clasping her hand, looking on her 
with fondness, and speaking of all he owed 
her ; and how he would endeavour to repay, 
by living, and making life a blessing to her. 
"I shall live," he said; "I feel that this 
malady will pass away, and I shall live to de- 
vote myself to rewarding you for all your 
anxieties, to dissipating the cloud with which 
I have so cruelly overshadowed your young 
life, and to making all the rest sunshine. I 
will think only of you ; all the rest, all that 
grieves me, and all that I repent, I cast even 
now into oblivion." 



224 FALKNER. 

At this moment the stranger entered and 
drew near. Elizabeth saw him and said : 
"And here, dearest father, is another to 
whom you owe more than you can guess — 
for kindness to me and the help to you. I 
do not think I should have preserved you 
without Mr. Neville." 

The young man was standing near the 
couch, looking on the invalid, and rejoicing 
in the change for the better that appeared. 
Falkner turned his eyes on him as Elizabeth 
spoke, a tremor ran through all his limbs, 
he grew ghastly pale, and fainted. 

An evil change from this time appeared in 
his state — and the physician was afraid of the 
journey, attributing his fainting to his in- 
ability to bear any excitement ; while Falkner, 
who was before passive, grew eager to depart. 
" Change of scene and moving will do me 
good," he said, " so that no one comes near 
me, no one speaks to me but Elizabeth." 

At one time the idea of Neville's accom- 



FALKNER. 



225 



panying them was alluded to — he was greatly 
disturbed — and seriously implored Elizabeth 
not to allow it. It was rather hard on the 
poor girl, who found so much support and 
solace in her new friend's society — but 
Falkner's slightest wish was with her a law, 
and she submitted without a murmur. " Do 
not let me even see him before we go," said 
Falkner. " Act on this wish, dearest, without 
hurting his feelings — without betraying to 
him that I have formed it — it would be an 
ungracious return for the services he has 
rendered you — for which I would fain show 
gratitude ; but that cannot be — you alone 
can repay — do so, as you best may, with 
thanks — but do not let me see him more." 

Elizabeth wondered — and as a last effort 
to vanquish his dislike, she said : " Do you 
know that he is the same boy, who interested 
us so much at Baden ? — he is no longer savage 
as he was then — but I fear that he is as 
unhappy as ever." 

l3 



226 FALKNER. 

" Too well do I know it" — replied Falkner 
— " do not question rne — do not speak to me 
again of him." He spoke in disjointed sen- 
tences — a cold dew stood on his brow — and 
Elizabeth, who knew that a mysterious wound 
rankled in his heart, more painful than any 
physical injury, was eager to calm him. 
Something, she might wonder ; but she 
thought more of sparing Falkner pain, than 
of satisfying her curiosity — and she mentally 
resolved never to mention the name of Neville 
again. 

They were to embark at sunrise — in the 
evening her new friend came to take leave 
— -she having evaded the notion of his 
accompanying them, and insisted that he 
should not join them in the morning to assist 
at their departure. Though she had done 
this with sweetness, and so much cordiality 
of manner as prevented his feeling any sort 
of slight ; yet in some sort he guessed that 
they wished to dismiss him, and this notion 



FALKNER. 227 

added to his melancholy, while some latent 
feeling made him readily acquiesce in it. Eliza- 
beth was told that he had come, and left 
Falkner to join him. It was painful to her 
to take leave — to feel that she should see him 
-no more — and to know that their separation 
was not merely casual, but occasioned by her 
father's choice, which hereafter might again 
and again interfere to separate them. As she 
entered the room, he was leaning against the 
casement, and looking on the sea which 
glanced before their windows, still as a lake, 
blue as the twilight sky that bent over it. 
It was a July evening — soft, genial, and 
soothing ; but no portion of the gladness 
of nature was reflected in the countenance 
of Neville. His large dark eyes seemed two 
wells of unfathomable sadness. The drooping 
lids gave them an expression of irresistible 
softness, which added interest to their melan- 
choly earnestness. His complexion was olive, 
but so clear that each vein could be dis- 



228 v FALKNER. 

cerned. His full, and finely shaped lips be- 
spoke the ardour and sensibility of his dispo- 
sition ; while his slim, youthful form appeared 
half bending with a weight of thought and 
sorrow. Elizabeth's heart beat as she came 
near and stood beside him. Neither spoke ; 
but he took her hand — and they both felt 
that each regretted the moment of parting 
too deeply for the mere ceremony of thanks 
and leave-taking. 

" I have grieved," said Neville, as if an- 
swering her, though no word had been said, 
" very much grieved at the idea of seeing you 
no more ; and yet it is for the best, I feel — 
and am sure. You do not know the usual 
unhappy tenor of my thoughts, nor the cause 
I have to look on life as an unwelcome bur- 
then. This is no new sentiment — it has been 
my companion since I was nine years old. 
At one time, before I knew how to rein and 
manage it, it was more intolerable than now; 
as a boy, it drove me to solitude — to abhorrence 



FALKNER. 229 

of the sight of man — to anger against God for 
creating me. These feelings have passed away ; 
nay, more — I live for a purpose — a sacred pur- 
pose, that shall be fulfilled despite of every 
obstacle — every seeming impossibility. Too 
often indeed the difficulties in my way have 
made me fear that I should never succeed, and I 
have desponded ; but never, till I saw you, did I 
know pleasure unconnected with my ultimate 
object. With you I have been at times taken 
out of myself; and I have almost forgotten — 
this must not be. I must resume my burthen, 
nor form one thought beyond the resolution 
I have made to die, if need be, to secure 
success." 

" You must not speak thus," said Elizabeth, 
looking at once with pity and admiration on 
a face expressive of so much sensitive pride 
and sadness springing from a sense of injury. 
" If your purpose is a good one, as I must 
believe that it is — you will either succeed, or 
receive a compensation from your endeavours 



230 FALKNER. 

equivalent to success. We shall meet again, 
and I shall see you happier." 

" When I am happier," he said, with more 
than his usual earnestness, " we shall in- 
deed meet — for I will seek you at the furthest 
end of the globe. Till then, I shrink from 
seeing any one who interests me — or from 
renewing sentiments of friendship which had 
better end here. You are too good and kind 
not to be made unhappy by the sight of suf- 
fering, and I must suffer till my end is accom- 
plished. Even now I regret that I ever saw 
you — though that feeling springs from a foolish 
pride. For hereafter you will hear my name 
— and if you already do not know — you will 
learn the miserable tale that hangs upon it — 
you will hear me commiserated ; you will 
learn why — and share the feeling. I would 
even avoid your pity — judge then how loath- 
some it is to receive that of others, and yet I 
must bear it, or fly them as I do. This will 
change. I have the fullest confidence that 



FALKNER. 231 

one day I may throw back on others the slur 
now cast upon me. This confidence, this full 
and sanguine trust, has altered me from what 
I once was ; it has changed the impatience, the 
almost ferocity I felt as a boy, into fortitude 
and resolution. " 

" Yes," said Elizabeth, " I remember once 
I saw you a long time since, when I was a mere 
girl, at Baden. Were you not there about four 
years ago ? Do you not remember falling with 
your horse and dislocating your wrist?" 

A tracery of strange wild thought came 
over the countenance of Neville. "Do I re- 
member?" he cried — " Yes — and I remember a 
beautiful girl — and I thought such would have 
been my sister, and I had not been alone — if 
fate, if cruel, inexorable, horrible destiny had 
not deprived me of her as well as all — all that 
made my childish existence Paradise. It is 
so — and T see you again, whom then my 
heart called sister — it is strange." 



232 FALKNER. 

" Did you give me that name?" said Eliza- 
beth. "Ah, if you knew the strange ideas I then 
had of giving you my father for your friend, 
instead of one spoken harshly — perhaps un- 
justly of — " 

As she spoke — he grew gloomy again — his 
eyes drooped, and the expression of his face 
became at first despondent, then proud, and 
even fierce ; it reminded her more forcibly 
than it had ever done before of the Boy of 
Baden — " It is better as it is," he continued, 
" much better that you do not share the evil 
that pursues me ; you ought not to be humi- 
liated, pressed down — goaded to hatred and 
contempt. 

" Farewell — I grieve to leave you — yet I 
feel deeply how it is for the best. Here- 
after you will acknowledge your acquaintance 
with me, when we meet in a happier hour. 
God preserve you and your dear father, as 
he will for your sake! Twice we have met 



FALKNER. 233 

— the third time, if sibyls' tales are true, is 
the test of good or evil in our friendship — 
till then, farewell." 

Thus they parted. Had Elizabeth been 
free from care with regard to Falkner — she 
had regretted the separation more ; and pon- 
dered more over the mysterious wretchedness 
that darkened the lives of the only two beings, 
the inner emotions of whose souls had been 
opened to her. As it was, she returned to 
watch and fear beside her father's couch — 
and scarcely to remember that a few minutes 
before she had been interested by another — 
so entirely were her feelings absorbed by her 
affection and solicitude for him. 



234 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER XIII. 



From this time their homeward journey 
was more prosperous. They arrived safely 
at Lyons, and thence proceeded to Basle — to 
take advantage again of river navigation ; 
the motion of a carriage being so inimical 
to the invalid. They proceeded down the 
Rhine to Rotterdam, and crossing the sea, 
returned at last to England, after an absence 
of four years. 

This journey, though at first begun in terror 
and danger, grew less hazardous at each mile 
they traversed towards the North ; and while 



FALKNER. 235 

going down the Rhine, Falkner and his adopt- 
ed daughter spent several tranquil and happy 
hours— comparing the scenery they saw to 
other and distant landscapes — and recalling 
incidents that had occurred many years ago. 
Falkner exerted himself for Elizabeth's sake 
— she had suffered so much, and he had in- 
flicted so much anguish upon her while endea- 
vouring to free himself from the burthen of 
life, that he felt remorse at having thus trifled 
with the deepest emotions of her heart— and 
anxious to recal the more pleasurable sensations 
adapted to her age. The listless, yet pleasing 
feelings attendant on convalescence influenced 
his mind also — and he enjoyed a peace to which 
he had long been a stranger. 

Elizabeth, it is true, had another source of 
reverie beside that ministered to her by her 
father. She often thought of Neville; and, 
though he was sad, the remembrance of him 
was full of pleasure. He had been so kind, 
so sympathizing, so helpful; besides there was 



236 FALKNER. 

a poetry in his very gloom that added a charm 
to every thought spent upon him. She did 
not only recall his conversation, but conjec- 
tured the causes of his sorrow, and felt deeply 
interested by the mystery that hung about 
him. So young and so unhappy ! And he had 
been long so — he was more miserable when 
they saw him roving wildly among the Alsa- 
tian hills. What could it mean? — She strove 
to recollect what Miss Jervis mentioned at 
that time ; she remembered only that he had 
no mother, and that his father was severe and 
unkind. 

Yet why, when nature is so full of joyous- 
ness, when, at the summer season, vegetation 
basks in beauty and delight, and the very 
clouds seemed to enjoy their aerial abode in 
upper sky, why should misery find a home in 
the mind of man ? a misery which balmy winds 
will not lull, nor the verdant landscape and 
its winding river dissipate ? She thought thus 
as she saw Falkner reclining apart, a cloud 



FALKNER. 237 

gathered on his brow, his piercing eyes fixed 
in vacancy, as if it beheld there a heart-moving 
tragedy; but she was accustomed to his 
melancholy, she had ever known him as a 
man of sorrows ; he had lived long before she 
knew him, and the bygone years were filled 
by events pregnant with wretchedness, nay, if 
he spoke truth, with guilt. But Neville, the 
young, the innocent, who had been struck in 
boyhood through no fault of his own, nor any 
act in which he bore a part ; was there no 
remedy for him? and would not friendship, 
and kindness, and the elastic spirit of youth, 
suffice to cure his wound? She remem- 
bered that he declared that he had an aim 
in view, in which he resolved to succeed, 
and, succeeding, he should be happy: a noble 
aim, doubtless ; for his soft eyes lighted joy- 
ously up, and his face expressed a glad pride 
when he prognosticated ultimate triumph. 
Her heart went with him in his efforts ; she 
prayed earnestly for his success, and was as 



238 FALKNER. 

sure as he, that Heaven would favour an object 
which she felt certain was generous and pure. 

A sigh, a half groan from Falkner, called 
her to his side, while she meditated on these 
things. Both suffer, she thought ; would that 
some link united them, so that both might 
find relief in the accomplishment of the same 
resolves ! Little did she think of the real 
link that existed, mysterious, yet adamantine ; 
that to pray for the success of one, was to 
solicit destruction for the other. A dark veil 
was before her eyes, totally impervious ; nor 
did she know that the withdrawing it, as was 
soon to be, would deliver her over to conflicting 
duties, sad struggles of feeling, and stain her 
life with the dark hues that now, missing her, 
blotted the existence of the two upon earth, 
for whom she was most interested. 

They arrived in London. Falkner's fever 
was gone, but his wound was rankling, painful, 
and even dangerous. The bullet had grazed 
the bone, and this, at first neglected, and after- 



FALKNER. 239 

wards improperly treated, now betrayed symp- 
toms of exfoliation ; his sufferings were great — 
he bore them patiently ; he looked on them as 
an atonement. He had gone out in his remorse 
to die — he was yet to live, broken and destroyed; 
and if suffered to live, was it not for Elizabeth's 
sake ? and having bound her fate to his, what 
right had he to die ? The air of London being 
injurious, and yet it being necessary to con- 
tinue in the vicinity of the most celebrated 
surgeons, they took a pleasant villa on Wim- 
bledon Common, situated in the midst of a 
garden, and presenting to the eye that mixture 
of neatness, seclusion and comfort, that renders 
some of our smaller English country houses 
so delightful. Elizabeth, despite her wander- 
ings, had a true feminine love of home. She 
busied herself in adding elegance to their 
dwelling, by a thousand little arts, which seem 
nothing, and are every thing in giving grace 
and cheerfulness to an abode. 

Their life became tranquil, and a confidence 



240 FALKNER. 

and friendship existed between them, the 
source of a thousand pleasant conversations, 
and happy hours. One subject, it is true, was 
forbidden, the name of Neville was never 
mentioned ; perhaps, on that very account, it 
assumed more power over Elizabeth's imagi- 
nation. A casual intercourse with one, 
however interesting, might have faded into 
the common light of day, had not the silence 
enjoined, kept him in that indistinct mysterious 
darkness so favourable to the processes of the 
imagination. On every other subject, the so 
called father and daughter talked with open 
heart, and Falkner was totally unaware of a 
secret growth of unspoken interest, which 
had taken root in separation and secrecy. 

Elizabeth, accustomed to fear death for one 
dearest to her, and to contemplate its near 
approaches so often, had something holy and 
solemn kneaded into the very elements of her 
mind, that gave sublimity to her thoughts, 
resignation to her disposition, and a stirring 



FALKNER. 241 

inquiring spirit to her conversation, which, 
separated as they were from the busy and 
trivial duties of life, took from the monotony 
and stillness of their existence, by bringing 
thoughts beyond the world to people the 
commonplace of each day's routine. Falkner 
had not much of this ; but he had a spirit of 
observation, a ready memory, and a liveliness 
of expression and description which corrected 
her wilder flights, and gave the interest of 
flesh and blood to her fairy dreams. When 
they read of the heroes of old, or the creations 
of the poets, she dwelt on the moral to be 
deduced, the theories of life and death, religion 
and virtue, therein displayed ; while he com- 
pared them to his own experience, criticised 
their truth, and gave pictures of real human 
nature, either contrasting with, or resembling, 
those presented on the written page. 

Their lives, thus spent, would have been 
equable and pleasant, but for the sufferings of 
Falkner ; and as those diminished, another 

VOL. I. m 



242 



FALKNER. 



evil arose, in his eyes of far more awful 
magnitude. They had resided at Wimbledon 
about a year, when Elizabeth fell ill. Her 
medical advisers explained her malady as 
the effect of the extreme nervous excitement 
she had gone through during the last years, 
which, borne with a patience and fortitude 
almost superhuman, had meanwhile under- 
mined her physical strength. This was a 
mortal blow to Falkner ; while with self- 
absorbed, and, he now felt, criminal perti- 
nacity, he had sought death, he had forgotten 
the results such acts of his might have on 
one so dear, and innocent. He had thought 
that when she lost him, Elizabeth would 
feel a transitory sorrow ; while new scenes, 
another family, and the absence of his griefs, 
would soon bring comfort. But he lived, 
and the consequences of his resolve to die 
fell upon her — she was his victim ! there 
was something maddening in the thought. 
He looked at her dear face, grown so pale — 



FALKNER. 243 

viewed her wasting form — watched her loss of 
appetite, and nervous tremours, with an im- 
patient agony that irritated his wound, and 
brought back malady on himself. 

All that the physicians could order for 
Elizabeth, was change of air — added to an 
intimation that an entirely new scene, and a 
short separation from her father, would be of 
the utmost benefit. Where could she go ? it 
was not now that she drooped — and trembled 
at every sound, that he could restore her to 
her father's family. No time ought to be lost, 
he was told, and the word consumption men- 
tioned ; the deaths of her parents gave a sting 
to that word, which filled him with terror. 
Something must be done immediately — what 
he knew not ; and he gazed on his darling, 
whom he felt that by his own act he had de- 
stroyed, with an ardour to save that he felt 
was impotent, and he writhed beneath the 
thought. 

One morning, while Falkner was brooding 
m 2 



244 FALKNER. 

over these miserable ideas — and Elizabeth was 
vainly trying to assume a look of cheerfulness 
and health, which her languid step and pale 
cheek belied — a carriage entered their quiet 
grounds, and a visitor was announced. It 
was Lady Cecil. Elizabeth had nearly for- 
gotten, nor ever expected to see her again — 
but that lady, whose mind was at ease at the 
period of their acquaintance, and who had 
been charmed by the beauty and virtues of 
the devoted daughter, had never ceased to de- 
termine at some time to seek her, and renew 
their acquaintance. She, indeed, never ex- 
pected to see Falkner again, and she often 
wondered what would be his daughter's fate 
when he died ; she and her family had re- 
mained abroad till the present spring, when 
being in London, she, by Miss Jervis's assist- 
ance, learned that he still lived, and that they 
were both at Wimbledon. 

Lady Cecil was a welcome visitor wherever 
she went, for there was an atmosphere of cheer- 



FALKNER. 245 

fill and kindly warmth around her, that never 
failed to communicate pleasure. Falkner, 
who had not seen her at Leghorn, and had 
scarcely heard her name mentioned, was won 
at once ; and when she spoke with ardent 
praise of Elizabeth, and looked upon her 
altered appearance with undisguised distress, 
his heart warmed towards her, and he was 
ready to ask her assistance in his dilemma. 
That was offered, however, before it was asked 
— she heard that change of air was recom- 
mended — she guessed that too great anxiety 
for her father had produced her illness — she 
felt sure that her own pleasant residence, and 
cheerful family, was the best remedy that 
could be administered. 

" I will not be denied," she said, after having 
made her invitation, that both father and 
daughter should pay her a visit. " You must 
.come to me : Lord Cecil is gone to Ireland for 
two months, to look after his estate there ; 
and our little Julius being weakly, I could 



246 FALKNER. 

not accompany him. I have taken a house 
near Hastings — the air is salubrious, the place 
beautiful — I lead a domestic, quiet life, and I 
am sure Miss Falkner will soon be well with 
me. 

As her invitation was urged with warmth 
and sincerity, Falkner did not hesitate to ac- 
cept it. To a certain degree, he modified it, 
by begging that Elizabeth should accompany 
Lady Cecil, in the first place, alone. As the 
visit was to be for two months, he promised 
after the first was elapsed to join them. He 
alleged various reasons for this arrangement; 
his real one being, that he had gathered from 
the physicians, that they considered a short 
separation from him as essential to the invalid's 
recovery. She acceded, for she was anxious 
to get well, and hoped that the change would 
restore her. Every thing was therefore soon 
agreed upon ; and, two days afterwards, the 
two ladies were on their road to Hastings, 
where Lady Cecil's family already was — she 



FALKNER. 247 

having come to town with her husband only, 
who by this time had set out on his Irish 
tour. 

" I feel convinced that three days of my nurs- 
ing will make you quite well," said Lady Ce- 
cil, as they were together in her travelling 
carriage ; " I wish you to look as you did in 
Italy. One so young, and naturally so healthy, 
will soon recover strength. You overtasked 
yourself — and your energetic mind is too strong 
for your body ; but repose, and my care, will 
restore you. I am sure we shall be very 
happy — my children are dear little angels, 
and will entertain you when you like, and 
never be in your way. I shall be your head 
nurse — and Miss Jervis, dear odd soul ! will 
act under my orders. The situation of my 
house is enchanting ; and, to add to our family 
circle, I expect my brother Gerard, whom I 
am sure you will like. Did I ever mention 
him to you ? perhaps not — but you must like 



248 FALKNER. 

Gerard — and you will delight him. He is 
serious — nay, to say the truth, sad — but it is 
a sadness a thousand times more interesting 
than the gaiety of common-place worldly men. 
It is a seriousness full of noble thoughts, and 
affectionate feelings. I never knew, I never 
dreamt, that there was a creature resembling, 
or to be compared to him in the world, till I 
saw you. You have the same freedom from 
worldliness — the same noble and elevated 
ideas — feeling for others, and thinking not 
of the petty circle of ideas that encompasses 
and presses down every other mind, so that 
they cannot see or feel beyond their Lilli- 
putian selves. 

" In one thing you do not resemble Gerard. 
You, though quiet, are cheerful ; while he, 
naturally more vivacious, is melancholy. You 
look an inquiry, but I cannot tell you the 
cause of my brother's unhappiness; for his 
friendship for me, which I highly prize. 



FALKNER. 249 

depends upon my keeping sacredly the pro- 
mise I have given never to make his sorrows 
a topic of conversation. All I can say is, 
that they result from a sensibility, and a de- 
licate pride, which is overstrained, yet which 
makes me love him ten thousand times more 
dearly. He is better now than he used to 
be, and I hope that time and reason will 
altogether dissipate the vain regrets that 
embitter his life. Some new — some strong 
feeling may one day spring up, and scatter 
the clouds. I pray for this ; for though I 
love him tenderly, and sympathize in his 
grief, yet I think it excessive and deplor- 
able ; and, alas ! never to be remedied, though 
it may be forgotten." 

Elizabeth listened with some surprise to 
hear of another so highly praised, and yet 
unhappy ; while in her heart she thought, 
" Though this sound like one to be compared 
to Neville, yet, when I see him, how I shall 

m 3 



250 FALKNER. 

scorn the very thought of finding another as 
high-minded, kind, and interesting as he ?" 
She gave no utterance however to this re- 
flection, and merely asked, " Is your brother 
older than you V 

" No, younger — he is only two-and-twenty ; 
but passion and grief, endured almost since 
infancy, prevented him when a child from 
being childish ; and now he has all that is 
beautiful in youth, with none of its follies. 
Pardon my enthusiasm ; but you will grow 
enthusiastic also when you see Gerard." 

"I doubt that," thought Elizabeth — "my 
enthusiasm is spent — and I should hate myself 
if I could think of another as of Neville." This 
latent thought made the excessive praises 
which Lady Cecil bestowed on her brother 
sound almost distastefully. Her thoughts 
flew back to Marseilles ; to his sedulous at- 
tentions — their parting interview — and fixed 
at last upon the strange emotion Falkner had 



FALKNER. 251 

displayed when seeing him ; and his desire 
that his name even should not be mentioned. 
Again she wondered what this meant, and her 
thoughts became abstracted ; Lady Cecil con- 
jectured that she was tired, and permitted her 
to indulge in her silent reveries. 



252 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER XIV. 



Lady Cecil's house was situated on the 
heights that overlook Fairlight Bay, near 
Hastings. Any one who has visited that 
coast, knows the peculiar beauty of the rocks, 
downs, and groves of Fairlight. The oak, 
which clothes each dell, and, in a dwarf and 
clipped state, forms the hedges, imparts a rich- 
ness not only to the wide landscape, but to 
each broken nook of ground and sequestered 
corner ; the fern, which grows only in conti- 
guity to the oak, giving a wild forest appear- 
ance to the glades. The mansion itself was 



FALKNJER. 253 

large, convenient, and cheerful. The grounds 
were extensive; and from points of view 
you could see the wide sea — the more pic- 
turesque bay — and the undulating varied shore 
that curves in towards Winchelsea. It was 
impossible to conceive a scene more adapted 
to revive the spirits, and give variety and 
amusement to the thoughts. 

Elizabeth grew better, as by a miracle, the 
very day after her arrival ; and within a week 
a sensible change had taken place in her 
appearance, as well as her health. The roses 
bloomed in her cheeks — her step regained 
its elasticity — her spirits rose even to gaiety. 
All was new and animating. Lady Cecil's beau- 
tiful and spirited children delighted her. It 
was a domestic scene, adorned by elegance, and 
warmed by affection. Elizabeth had, despite 
her attachment to her father, often felt the 
weight of loneliness when left by him at 
Zante; or when his illness threw her back 
entirely on herself. Now on each side there 



254 FALKNER. 

were sweet, kind faces — playful, tender ca- 
resses — and a laughing mirth, cheering in its 
perfect innocence. 

The only annoyance she suffered, arose from 
the great influx of visitors. Having lived a 
life disjoined from the crowd, she soon began 
to conceive the hermitess delight in loneliness, 
and the vexation of being intruded upon by 
the frivolous and indifferent. She found that 
she loved friends, but hated acquaintance. 
Nor was this strange. Her mind was quite 
empty of conventional frivolities. She had 
not been at a ball twice in her life, and then 
only when a mere child ; yet all had been 
interest and occupation. To unbend with her 
was to converse with a friend — to play with 
children — or to enjoy the scenes of nature with 
one who felt their beauties with her. " It was 
hard labour," she often said, " to talk with 
people with whom she had not one pursuit — 
one taste in common." Often when a barouche, 
crowded with gay bonnets, appeared, she stole 



FALKNER. 255 

away. Lady Cecil could not understand this. 
Brought up in the thick of fashionable life, 
no person of her clique was a stranger ; and if 
any odd people called on her — still they were 
in some way entertaining ; or if bores — bores 
are an integral portion of life, not to be shaken 
off with impunity, for as oysters they often 
retain the fairest pearls in close conjunction. 
"You are wrong," said Lady Cecil. "You 
must not be savage — I cannot have mercy on 
you ; this little jagged point in your character 
must be worn off — you must be as smooth and 
glossy in exterior, as you are incalculably 
precious in the substance of your mind." 

Elizabeth smiled; but not the less when a 
sleek, self-satisfied dowager, all smiles to 
those she knew — all impertinent scrutiny to 
the unknown — and a train of ugly old women 
in embryo — called, for the present, misses — 
followed, each honouring her with an insolent 
stare. " There was a spirit in her feet," and 
she could not stay, but hurried out into the 



256 FALKNER. 

woodland dells, and with a book, her own 
reveries, and the beautiful objects around her, 
as her companions; and feeling ecstatically 
happy, both at what she possessed, and what 
she had escaped from. 

Thus it was one day that she deserted Lady 
Cecil, who was smiling sweetly on a red-faced 
gouty 'squire, and listening placidly to his 
angry wife, who was complaining that her 
name had been put too low down in some 
charity list. She stole out from the glass- 
door that opened on the lawn, and, delighted 
that her escape was secure, hurried to join 
the little group of children whom she saw 
speeding beyond into the park. 

" Without a bonnet, Miss Falkner !" cried 
Miss Jervis. 

" Yes ; and the sun is warm. You are not 
using your parasol, Miss Jervis ; lend it me, 
and let us go into the shade." Then, taking 
her favourite child by the hand, she said, 
"Come, let us pay visits. Mamma has got 



FALKNER. 



some visitors ; so we will go and seek for 
some. There is my Lord Deer, and pretty 
Lady Doe. Ah! pretty Miss Fawn, what a 
nice dappled frock you have on !" 

The child was enchanted ; and they wan- 
dered on through the glades, among the fern, 
into a shady dell, quite at the other side of 
the park, and sat down beneath a spreading 
oak tree. By this time they had got into a 
serious talk of where the clouds were going, 
and where the first tree came from, when a 
gentleman, who had entered the park gates 
unperceived, rode by, and pulling up his 
horse suddenly, with a start, and an exclama- 
tion of surprise, he and Elizabeth recognized 
each other. 

" Mr. Neville!" she cried, and her heart was 
full in a moment of a thousand recollections 
— of the gratitude she owed — their parting- 
scene — and the many conjectures she had 
formed about him since they separated. He 
looked more than pleased ; and the expression 
of gloomy abstraction which his face too often 



258 FALKNER. 

wore, was lit up by a smile that went straight 
to the heart. He sprung from his horse, gave 
the rein to his groom, and joining Elizabeth 
and her little companion, walked towards the 
house. 

Explanations and surprise followed. He 
was the praised, expected brother of Lady 
Cecil. How strange that Elizabeth had not 
discovered this relationship at Marseilles! and 
yet, at that time, she had scarcely a thought 
to spare beyond Falkner. His recovery sur- 
prised Neville, and he expressed the warmest 
pleasure. He looked with tenderness and 
admiration at the soft and beautiful creature 
beside him, whose courage and unwearied 
assiduity had preserved her father's life. It 
was a bewitching contrast to remember her 
face shadowed by fear — her vigilant, anxious 
eyes fixed on her father's wan countenance — 
her thoughts filled with one sad fear ; and now 
to see it beaming in youthful beauty, ani- 
mated by the happy, generous feelings which 
were her nature. Yet this very circumstance 



FALKNER. 259 

had a sad reaction upon Neville. His heart 
still bore the burthen of its sorrow, and he 
felt more sure of the sympathy of the afflicted 
mourner, than of one who looked untouched by 
any adversity. The sentiment was transitory, 
for Elizabeth, with that delicate tact which is 
natural to a feeling mind, soon gave such a 
subdued tone to their conversation as made it 
accord with the mysterious unhappiness of her 
companion. 

When near the house, they were met by 
Lady Cecil, who smiled at what she deemed a 
sudden intimacy naturally sprung between two 
who had so many qualities in common. Lady 
Cecil really believed them made for each 
other, and had been anxious to bring them 
together ; for being passionately attached to 
her brother, and grieving at the melancholy 
that darkened his existence, she thought she 
had found a cure in her new friend ; and that 
the many charms of Elizabeth would cause 
him to forget the misfortunes on which he so 



260 FALKNER. 

vainly brooded. She was still more pleased 
when an explanation was given, and she found 
that they were already intimate — already 
acquainted with the claims each possessed to 
the other's admiration and interest ; and each 
naturally drawn to seek in the other that 
mirror of their better nature, that touch of 
kindred soul, which showed that they were 
formed to share existence, or, separated, to 
pine eternally for a reunion. 

Lady Cecil, with playful curiosity, ques- 
tioned why they had concealed their being 
acquainted. Elizabeth could not well tell ; 
she had thought much of Neville, but first the 
prohibition of Falkner, and then the excessive 
praises Lady Cecil bestowed upon her brother, 
chained her tongue. The one had accustomed 
her to preserve silence on a subject deeply 
interesting to her ; the other jarred with any 
confidence, for there would have been a 
comparing Neville with the Gerard which 
was indeed himself: and Elizabeth neither 



FALKNER. 261 

wished to have her friend depreciated, nor to 
struggle against the enthusiasm felt by the 
lady for her brother. The forced silence of 
to-day on such a subject, renders the silence 
of to-morrow almost a matter of necessity ; 
and she was ashamed to mention one she had 
not already named. It may be remarked that 
this sort of shame arises in all dispositions ; 
it is the seal and symbol of love. Shame of 
any kind was not akin to the sincere and 
ingenuous nature of Elizabeth ; but love, 
though young and unacknowledged, will 
tyrannise from the first, and produce emotions 
never felt before. 

Neville hoarded yet more avariciously the 
name of Elizabeth. There was delight in the 
very thought of her; but he shrunk from 
being questioned. He had resolved to avoid 
her; for, till his purpose was achieved, and 
the aim of his existence fulfilled, he would 
not yield to the charms of love, which he felt 
hovered round the beautiful Elizabeth. Sworn 



262 FALKNER. 

to a sacred duty, no self-centred or self-pro- 
digal passion should come between him and 
its accomplishment. But, meeting her thus 
unawares, he could not continue guarded ; his 
very soul drank in gladness at the sight of her. 
He remarked with joy the cheerfulness that 
had replaced her cares ; he looked upon her 
open brow, her eyes of mingled tenderness 
and fire, her figure free and graceful in every 
motion, and felt that she realised every idea 
he had formed of feminine beauty. He fancied 
indeed that he looked upon her as a picture; 
that his heart was too absorbed by its own 
griefs to catch a thought beyond ; he was 
unmindful, while he gazed, of that emanation, 
that shadow of the shape, which the Latin 
poet tells us flows from every object, that 
impalpable impress of her form and being, 
which the air took and then folded round him, 
so that all he saw entered, as it were, into 
his own substance, and became mingled up 
for evermore with his identity. 



FALKNER. 263 



CHAPTER XV. 



Three or four days passed in great tran- 
quillity; and Lady Cecil rejoiced that the great 
medicine acted so well on the rankling malady 
of her brother's soul. It was the leafy month 
of June, and nature was as beautiful as these 
lovely beings themselves, who enjoyed her 
sweets with enthusiastic and new-sprung de- 
light. They sailed on the sunny sea — or lin- 
gered by the summer brooks, and among the 
rich woodlands — ignorant, why all appeared 
robed in a brightness, which before they had 
never observed. Elizabeth had little thought 



264 FALKNER. 

beyond the present hour — except to wish for 
the time when Falkner was to join them. 
Neville rebelled somewhat against the new 
law he obeyed, but it was a slothful rebellion 
— till on a day, he was awakened from his 
dream of peace. 

One morning Elizabeth, on entering the 
breakfast room, found Lady Cecil leaning 
discontentedly by the window, resting her 
cheek on her hand, and her brow overcast. 

" He is gone," she exclaimed; " it is too 
provoking ! Gerard is gone ! A letter came, 
and I could not detain him — it will take 
him probably to the other end of the king- 
dom — and who knows when we shall see him 
again ! " 

They sat down to breakfast, but Lady Cecil 
was full of discontent. "It is not only that 
he is gone," she continued ; "but the cause 
of his going is full of pain, and care — and 
unfortunately, you cannot sympathize with 
me, for I have not obtained his consent 



FALKNER. 265 

to confide his hapless story to you. Would that 
I might ! — you would feel for him — for us all." 

"He has been unhappy since childhood," 
observed Elizabeth. 

" He has, it is true ; but how did you learn 
that ? has he ever told you any thing ?" 

" I saw him many years ago at Baden. 
How wild, how sullen he was — unlike his 
present self! for then there was a violence, 
and a savageness in his gloom, which has 
vanished." 

" Poor boy !" said Lady Cecil, " I remember 
well — and it is a pleasure to think that I am, 
to a great degree, the cause of the change. He 
had no friend at that time — none to love — -to 
listen to him, and foster hopes which, how- 
ever vain, diminish his torments, and are all 
the cure he can obtain, till he forgets them. 
But what can this mean ?" she continued, 
starting up ; " what can bring him back ? 
It is Gerard returned !" 

She threw open the glass-door, and went 

VQL. T. N 



266 FALKNER. 

out to meet him as he rode up the avenue — 
he threw himself from his horse, and advanced 
exclaiming, " Is my father here ?" 

" Sir Boyvill ? No ; is he coming ?" 

" yes ! we shall see him soon. I met a 
servant with a letter sent express — the post 
was too slow — he will be here soon ; he left 
London last night — you know with what speed 
he travels." 

" But why this sudden visit?" 

" Can you not guess ? He received a letter 
from the same person — containing the same 
account ; he knew I was here — he comes to 
balk my purpose, to forbid, to storm, to re- 
proach ; to do all that he has done a thousand 
times before, with the same success/' 

Neville looked flushed, and disturbed ; his 
face, usually, " more in sorrow than in anger," 
now expressed the latter emotion, mingled 
with scorn and resolution ; he gave the letter 
he had received to Lady Cecil. " I am wrong, 
perhaps, in returning at his bidding, since I 



FALKNER. 267 

do not mean ultimately to obey — yet he 
charges me on my duty to hear him once 
again ; so I am come to hear — to listen to the 
old war of his vanity, with what he calls my 
pride — his vindictiveness with my sense of 
duty — his vituperation of her I worship — and 
I must bear this!" 

Lady Cecil read the letter, and Neville press- 
ed Elizabeth's hand, and besought her excuse, 
while she, much bewildered, was desirous to 
leave the room. At this moment the noise of 
a carriage was heard on the gravel. " He is 
here," said Neville ; " see him first, Sophia, 
tell him how resolved I am — how right in my 
resolves. Try to prevent a struggle, as dis- 
graceful as vain ; and most so to my father, 
since he must suffer defeat." 

With a look of much distress, Lady Cecil 
left the room to receive her new guest ; while 
Elizabeth stole out by another door into the 
grove, and mused under the shady covert on 
what had passed. She felt curious, yet sad- 

n2 



268 FALKNER. 

dened. Concord, affection, and sympathy, 
are so delightful, that all that disturbs the 
harmony is eminently distasteful. Family 
contentions are worst of all. Yet she would 
not prejudge Neville. He felt, in its full bit- 
terness, the pain of disobeying his parent; 
and whatever motive led to such a mode of 
action, it hung like an eclipse over his life. 
What it might be, she could not guess ; but it 
was no ignoble, self-centred passion. Hope, 
and joy were sacrificed to it. She remembered 
him as she first saw him, a boy driven towild- 
ness by a sense of injury ; she remembered 
him when reason, and his better nature, had 
subdued the selfish portion of his feeling — 
grown kind as a woman — active, friendly, and 
sympathizing, as few men are; she recollected 
him by Falkner's sick couch, and when he 
took leave of her, auguring that they should 
meet in a happier hour. That hour had not 
yet come, and she confessed to herself that 
she longed to know the cause of his unhappi- 



FALKNER. 269 

i 

ness; and wondered whether, by counsel or 
sympathy, she could bring any cure. 

She was plunged in reverie, walking 
slowly beneath the forest trees, when she 
heard a quick step brushing the dead leaves 
and fern, and Neville joined her. " I have 
escaped, " he cried, "and left poor Sophy to 
bear the scoldings of an unjust and angry 
man. I could not stay — it was not cowardice 
— but I have recollections joined to such con- 
tests, that make my heart sick. Besides, I 
should reply — and I would not willingly 
forget that he is my father." 

" It must be indeed painful," said Elizabeth, 
" to quarrel with, to disobey a parent." 

" Yet there are motives that might, that 
must excuse it. Do you remember the cha- 
racter of Hamlet, Miss Falkner?" 

"Perfectly — it is the embodying of the 
most refined, the most genuine, and yet the 
most harrowing feelings and situation, that 
the imagination ever conceived. " 



270 FALKNER. 

" I have read that play," said Neville, " till 
each word seems instinct with a message 
direct to my heart — as if my own emotions 
gave a conscious soul to every line. Hamlet 
was called upon to avenge a father — in exe- 
cution of his task he did not spare a dearer, a 
far more sacred name — if he used no daggers 
with his mother, he spoke them ; nor winced 
though she writhed beneath his hand. Mine 
is a lighter — yet a holier duty. I would vin- 
dicate a mother — without judging my father 
— without any accusation against him, I would 
establish her innocence. Is this blameable? 
What would you do, Miss Falkner, if your 
father were accused of a crime?" 

" My father and a crime! Impossible!" ex- 
claimed Elizabeth ; for, strange to say, all the 
self-accusations of Falkner fell empty on her 
ear. It was a virtue in him to be conscience- 
stricken for an error; of any real guilt she 
would have pledged her life that he was free. 

"Yes — impossible!" cried Neville — "doubt- 



FALKNER. 271 

less it is so ; but did you hear his name stigma- 
tized — shame attend your very kindred to him 
— What would you do ? — defend him — prove 
his innocence — Would you not VI 

" A life were well sacrificed to such a duty." 
" And to that very duty mine is devoted. 
In childhood I rebelled against the accusation 
with vain, but earnest indignation; now I am 
calmer because I am more resolved ; but I 
will yield to no impediment — be stopped by no 
difficulty — not even by my father's blind com- 
mands. My mother ! dear name — dearer for 
the ills attached to it — my angel mother shall 
find an unfaltering champion in her son." 

" You must not be angry," he continued, in 
reply to her look of wonder, " that I mention 
circumstances which it is customary to slur over 
and conceal. It is shame for me to speak — for 
you to hear — my mother's name. That very 
thought gives a keener edge to my purpose. 
God knows what miserable truth is hidden by 
the veils which vanity, revenge and selfishness 



272 FALKNER. 

have drawn around my mother's fate; but 
that truth — though it be a bleeding one — shall 
be disclosed, and her innocence be made as 
clear as the sun now shining above us. 

" It is dreadful, very dreadful, to be told — 
to be persuaded that the idol of one's thoughts 
is corrupt and vile. It is no new story, it is 
true — wives have been false to their husbands 
ere now, and some have found excuses, and 
sometimes been justified ; it is the manner 
makes the thing. That my mother should 
have left her happy home — which, under her 
guardian eye, was Paradise — have deserted 
me, her child, whom she so fondly loved — 
and who even in that unconscious age adored 
her — and her poor little girl, who died neg- 
lected — that year after year she has never 
inquired after us — nor sent nor sought a word 
— while following a stranger's fortune through 
the world ! That she whose nightly sleep was 
broken by her tender cares — whose voice so 
often lulled me, and whose every thought and 



FALKNER. 273 

act was pure as an angel's — that she, tempted 
by the arch fiend, strayed from hell for her 
destruction, should leave us all to misery, and 
her own name to obloquy. No ! no ! The 
earth is yet sheltered by heaven, and sweet, 
and good things abide in it — and she was, and 
is, among them sweetest and best !" 

Neville was carried away by his feelings — 
while Elizabeth, overpowered by his vehe- 
mence — astonished by the wild, strange tale 
he disclosed, listened in silence, yet an eloquent 
silence — for her eyes filled with tears — and 
her heart burned in her bosom with a desire 
to show how entirely she shared his deep 
emotion. 

" I have made a vow," he continued — "it 
is registered in heaven ; and each night as I 
lay my head on my pillow I renew it; and 
beside you — the best of earthly things now 
that my dear mother is gone, I repeat— that I 
devote my life to vindicate her who gave me 
life; and my selfish, revengeful father is here 

n 3 



274 FALKNER. 

to impede — to forbid — but I trample on such 
obstacles, as on these dead leaves beneath 
our feet. You do not speak, Miss Falkner — 
did you ever hear of Mrs. Neville?" 

" I have spent all my life out of England," 
replied Elizabeth, " yet I have some recol- 
lection." 

" I do not doubt it — to the ends of the 
earth the base-minded love to carry the tale 
of slander and crime. You have heard of 
Mrs. Neville, who for the sake of a stranger 
deserted her home, her husband, her helpless 
children — and has never been heard of since ; 
who, unheard and undefended, was divorced 
from her husband — whose miserable son was 
brought to witness against her. It is a story 
well fitted to raise vulgar wonder — vulgar 
abhorrence ; do you wonder that I, who since 
I was nine years old have slept and waked on 
the thought, should have been filled with 
hate, rancour, and every evil passion, till the 
blessed thought dawned on my soul, that I 



FALKNER. 275 

would prove her innocence, and that she 
should be avenged — for this I live." 

" And now I must leave you. I received 
yesterday a letter which promises a clue to 
guide me through this labyrinth ; wherever it 
leads, there I follow. My father has come to 
impede me — but I have, after using un vail- 
ing remonstrance, told him that I will obey a 
sense of duty independent of parental autho- 
rity. I do not mean to see him again — I now 
go — but I could not resist the temptation of 
seeing you before I went, and proving to you 
the justice of my resolves. If you wish for 
further explanation, ask Sophia — tell her that 
she may relate all ; there is not a thought or 
act of my life with which I would have you 
unacquainted, if you will deign to listen." 

" Thank you for this permission," said 
Elizabeth; " Lady Cecil is desirous, I know, 
of telling me the cause of a melancholy which, 
good and kind as you are, you ought not to 
suffer. Alas ! this, is a miserable world : and 



276 FALKNER. 

when I hear of your sorrows, and remember 
my dear father's, I think that I must be stone 
to feel no more than I do ; and yet, I would 
give my life to assist you in your task." 

" I know well how generous you are, though 
I cannot now express how my heart thanks 
you. I will return before you leave my 
sister; wherever fate and duty drives me, I 
will see you again." 

They returned towards the house, and he 
left her ; his horse was already saddled, and 
standing at the door ; he was on it, and gone 
in a moment. 

Elizabeth felt herself as in a dream when 
he was gone, yet her heart and wishes went 
with him ; for she believed the truth of all he 
said, and revered the enthusiasm of affection 
that impelled his actions. There was some- 
thing wild and proud in his manner, which 
forcibly reminded her of the boy of sixteen, 
who had so much interested her girlish mind; 
and his expressions, indignant and passionate 



FALKNER. 277 

as they were, yet vouched, by the very senti- 
ment they conveyed, for the justice of his 
cause. " Gallant, noble-hearted being ! God 
assist your endeavours ! God and every good 
spirit that animates this world ! " Thus her 
soul spoke as she saw him ride off; and, 
turning into the house, a half involuntary 
feeling made her take up the volume of 
Shakspeare containing Hamlet ; and she was 
soon buried, not only in the interest of the 
drama itself, but in the various emotions it 
excited by the association it now bore to one 
she loved more even than she knew. It was 
nothing strange that Neville, essentially a 
dreamer and a poet, should have identified 
himself with the Prince of Denmark ; while 
the very idea that he took to himself, and acted 
on sentiments thus high-souled and pure, 
adorned him yet more in her eyes, endowing 
him in ample measue with that ideality which 
the young and noble love to bestow on the 
objects of their attachment. 



278 FALKNER. 

After a short time, she was interrupted by 
Lady Cecil, who looked disturbed and vexed. 
She said little, except to repine at Gerard's 
going, and Sir Boyvill's stay — he also was to 
depart the following morning : but Sir Boyvill 
was a man who made his presence felt dis- 
agreeably, even when it was limited to a few 
hours. Strangers acknowledged this ; no one 
liked the scornful, morose old man ; and a 
near connexion, who was open to so many at- 
tacks, and sincerely loved one whom Sir Boy- 
vill pretended most to depreciate, was even 
more susceptible to the painful feelings he 
always contrived to spread round hiin. To de- 
spise every body, to contradict every body with 
marks of sarcasm and contempt, to set himself 
up for an idol, and yet to scorn his worshippers; 
these were the prominent traits of his character, 
added to a galled and sore spirit, which was for 
ever taking offence, which discerned an attack 
in every word, and was on the alert to repay 
these fancied injuries with real and undoubted 



FALKNER. 279 

insult. He had been a man of fashion, and 
retained as much good breeding as was com- 
patible with a tetchy and revengeful temper ; 
this was his only merit. 

He was nearly seventy years of age, remark- 
ably well preserved, but with strongly marked 
features, and a countenance deeply lined, set 
off by a young looking wig, which took all 
venerableness from his appearance, without 
bestowing juvenility; his lips were twisted 
into a sneer, and there was something in his 
evident vanity that might have provoked 
ridicule, but that traces of a violent, unfor- 
giving temper prevented him from being 
merely despicable, while they destroyed every 
particle of compassion with which he might 
have been regarded ; for he was a forlorn 
old man, separating himself from those allied 
to him by blood or connexion, excellent as 
they were. His only pleasure had been in 
society ; secluding himself from that, or 
presenting himself only in crowds, where he 



280 FALKNER. 

writhed to find that he went for nothing, he 
was miserable, yet not to be comforted, for 
the torments he endured were integral portions 
of his own nature. 

He looked surprised to see Elizabeth, and 
was at first very civil to her, with a sort of 
old-fashioned gallantry which, had it been 
good-humoured, might have amused, but, as 
it was, appeared forced, misplaced, and ren- 
dered its object very uncomfortable. What- 
ever Lady Cecil said, he contradicted. He 
made disagreeable remarks about her children, 
prophesying in them so much future torment ; 
and when not personally impertinent, amused 
them by recapitulating all the most scandalous 
stories rife in London of unfaithful wives and 
divided families, absolutely gloating with 
delight, when he narrated any thing peculiarly 
disgraceful. After half an hour, Elizabeth 
quite hated him ; and he extended the same 
sentiment to her on her bestowing a meed of 
praise on his son. " Yes," he said, in reply, 



FALKNER. 281 

" Gerard is a very pleasant person ; if I said 
he was half madman, half fool, I should 
certainly say too much, and appear an unkind 
father ; but the sort of imbecility that charac- 
terizes his understanding is, I think, only 
equalled by his self-willed defiance of all laws 
which society has established; in conduct 
he very much resembles a lunatic armed 
with a weapon of offence, which he does not 

fear himself, and deals about on those unfor- 
- 
tunately connected with him, with the same 

indifference to wounds." 

On this speech, Lady Cecil coloured and rose 
from the table, and her friend gladly followed ; 
leaving Sir Boyvill to his solitary wine. 
Never had Elizabeth experienced before the 
intolerable weight of an odious person's so- 
ciety — she was stunned. " We have but one 
resource," said Lady Cecil; " you must sit 
down to the piano. Sir Boyvill is too polite 
not to entreat you to play on, and too weary 
not to fall asleep ; he is worse than ever." 



282 FALKNER. 

" But he is your father!" cried Elizabeth, 
astonished. 

" No, thank heaven !" said Lady Cecil. — 
" What could have put that into your head? 
Oh, I see — I call Gerard my brother. Sir Boy- 
vill married my poor mother, who is since dead. 
We are only connected — I am happy to say — 
there is no drop of his blood in my veins. But 
I hear him coming. Do play something of 
Herz. The noise will drown every other sound, 
and even astonish my father-in-law." 

The evening was quickly over, for Sir Boy- 
vill retired early ; the next morning he was 
gone, and the ladies breathed freely again. 
It is impossible to attempt to describe the 
sort of moral nightmare the presence of such 
a man produces. " Do you remember in 
Madame de Sevigne's Letters," said Lady 
Cecil, " where she observes that disagreeable 
society is better than good — because one is 
so pleased to get rid of it? In this sense, 
Sir Boyvill is the best company in the whole 



FALKNER. 283 

world. We will take a long drive to-day, to 
get rid of the last symptoms of the Sir Boy- 
vill fever." 

" And you will tell me what all this mys- 
tery means," said Elizabeth. " Mr. Neville 
gave some hints yesterday; but referred me 
to you. You may tell me all." 

" Yes ; I am aware," replied Lady Cecil. 
" This one good, at least, I have reaped from 
Sir Boyvill's angry visit. I am permitted to 
explain to you the causes of our discord, and 
of dear Gerard's sadness. I shall win your 
sympathy for him, and exculpate us both. 
It is a mournful tale — full of unexplainable 
mystery — shame — and dreaded ill. It fills 
me perpetually with wonder and regret ; nor 
do I see any happy termination, except in the 
oblivion, in which I wish that it was buried. 
Here is the carriage. We will not take any 
of the children with us, that we may suffer no 
interruption." 

Elizabeth's interest was deeply excited, and 



284 FALKNER. 

she was as eager to listen as her friend to tell. 
The story outlasted a long drive. It was 
ended in the dusky twilight — as they sat after 
dinner, looking out on the summer woods — 
while the stars came out twinkling amidst the 
foliage of the trees — and the deer crept close 
to graze. The hour was still — and was ren- 
dered solemn by a tale as full of heartfelt 
sorrow, and generous enthusiasm, as ever won 
maiden's attention, and bespoke her favour for 
him who loved and suffered. 



. - 



FALKNER. 285 

CHAPTER XVI. 

i 

Lady Cecil began : — 

" I have already told you that though I 
call Gerard my brother, and he possesses my 
sisterly affection, we are only connexions by 
marriage, and not the least related in blood. 
His father married my mother ; but Gerard 
is the offspring of a former marriage, as I am 
also. Sir Boyvill's first wife is the unfor- 
tunate lady who is the heroine of my tale. 

" Sir Boyvill, then Mr. Neville, for he in- 
herited his baronetcy only a few years ago, 
had advanced beyond middle age when he first 



286 FALKNER. 

married. He was a man of the world, and 
of pleasure ; and being also clever, handsome, 
and rich, had great success in the circles of 
fashion. He was often involved in liaisons 
with ladies, whose names were rife among 
the last generation for loving notoriety and 
amusement better than duty and honour. As 
he made a considerable figure, he conceived 
that he had a right to entertain a high opinion 
of himself, and not without some foundation ; 
his good sayings were repeated ; his songs 
were set to music, and sung with enthusiasm 
in his own set — he was courted and feared. 
Favoured by women, imitated by men, he 
reached the zenith of a system, any connec- 
tion with which is considered as enviable. 

" He was some five-and-forty when he fell in 
love, and married. Like many dissipated men, 
he had a mean idea of female virtue — and 
especially disbelieved that any portion of it 
was to be found in London ; so he married a 
country girl, without fortune, but with beauty 



FALKNER. 287 

and attractions sufficient to justify his choice. 
I never saw his lady ; but several of her early 
friends have described her to me. She was 
something like Gerard — yet how unlike! In 
the colour of the eyes and hair, and the for- 
mation of the features, they resembled ; but 
the expression was wholly different. Her 
clear complexion was tinged by a pure blood, 
that ebbed and flowed rapidly in her veins, 
driven by the pulsations of her soul, rather 
than of her body. Her large dark eyes were 
irresistibly brilliant ; and opened their lids on 
the spectator, with an effect such as the sun 
has, when it drops majestically below a heavy 
cloud, and dazzles the beholder with its unex- 
pected beams. She was vivacious — nay wild 
of spirit ; but though raised far above the dull 
monotony of common life by her exuberant 
joyousness of soul, yet every thought and act 
was ruled by a pure, unsullied heart. Her im- 
pulses were keen and imperative ; her sensi- 
bility, true to the touch of nature, was trem- 



288 FALKNER. 

blingly alive ; but their more dangerous ten- 
dencies were guarded by excellent principles, 
and a truth never shadowed by a cloud. Her 
generous and confiding heart might be duped 
— might spring forward too eagerly — and she 
might be imprudent ; but she was never false. 
An ingenuous confession of error, if ever she 
fell into it, purged away all suspicion that 
any thing mysterious or forbidden lurked in 
her most thoughtless acts. Other women, 
who like her are keenly sensitive, and who 
are driven by ungovernable spirits to do what 
they afterwards repent, and are endowed, as 
she was, with an aptitude to shame when re- 
buked, guard their dignity or their fears by 
falsehood ; and while their conduct is essen- 
tially innocent, immesh themselves in such 
a web of deceit, as not only renders them 
absolutely criminal in the eyes of those who 
detect them, but in the end hardens and per- 
verts their better nature. Alithea Neville 
never sheltered herself from the . consequences 



FALKNER. 289 

of her faults ; rather she met them too eagerly, 
acknowledged a venial error with too much 
contrition, and never rested till she had laid her 
heart bare to her friend and judge, and vindi- 
cated its every impulse. To this admirable 
frankness, soft tenderness, and heart-cheering 
gaiety, was added a great store of common 
sense. Her fault, if fault it could be called, 
was a too earnest craving for the sympathy and 
affection of those she loved ; to obtain this, 
she was unwearied, nay prodigal, in her endea- 
vours to please and serve. Her generosity 
was a ready prompter, while her sensibility 
enlightened her. She sought love, and not 
applause ; and she obtained both from all who 
knew her. To sum up all with the mention 
of a defect — though she could feel the dignity 
which an adherence to the dictates of duty im- 
parts, yet sometimes going wrong — sometimes 
wounded by censure, and always keenly alive 
to blame, she had a good deal of timidity in 
her character. She was so susceptible to pain, 
vol. i. o 



290 FALKNER. 

that she feared it too much, too agonizingly ; 
and this terror of meeting any thing harsh or 
grating in her path, rendered her too diffident 
of herself — too submissive to authority — too 
miserable, and too yielding, when any thing 
disturbed the harmony with which she desired 
to be surrounded. 

" It was these last qualities probably that led 
her to accept Mr. Neville's offer. Her father 
wished it, and she obeyed. He was a retired 
lieutenant in the navy. Sir Boyvill got him 
raised to the rank of post captain ; and what 
naval officer but would feel unbounded gratitude 
for such a favour ! He was appointed to a ship 
— sailed — and fell in an engagement not many 
months after his daughter's marriage — grate- 
ful, even in his last moments, that he died 
commanding the deck of a man-of-war. Mean- 
while his daughter bore the effects of his pro- 
motion in a less gratifying way. Yet, at first, 
she loved and esteemed her husband. He 
was not then what he is now. He was hand- 



FALKNER. 291 

some ; and his good-breeding had the polish 
of the day. He was popular, through a sort 
of liveliness which passes for wit, though it 
was rather a conventional ease in conversation 
than the sparkle of real intellect. Besides, he 
loved her to idolatry. Whatever he is now, 
still vehemence of passion forms his charac- 
teristic ; and though the selfishness of his 
disposition gave an evil bias even to his love, 
yet it was there, and for a time it shed its 
delusions over his real character. While 
her artless and sweet caresses could create 
smiles — while he played the slave at her feet, 
or folded her in his arms with genuine and 
undisguised transport, even his darker nature 
was adorned by the, to him, alien and tran- 
sitory magic of love. 

" But marriage too soon changed Sir Boy- 
vill for the worse. Close intimacy disclosed 
the distortions of his character. He was a 
vain and a selfish man. Both qualities ren- 
dered him exacting in the extreme ; and the 

o2 



292 FALKNER. 

first give birth to the most outrageous jea- 
lousy. Alithea was too ingenuous for him 
to be able to entertain suspicions ; but his 
jealousy was nourished by the difference of 
their age and temper. She was nineteen — in 
the first bloom of loveliness — in the freshest 
spring of youthful spirits — too innocent to sus- 
pect his doubts — too kind in her most joyous 
hour to fancy that she could offend. He was 
a man of the world — a thousand times had 
seen men duped and women deceive. He 
did not know of the existence of a truth as 
spotless and uncompromising as existed in 
Alithea's bosom. He imagined that he was 
marked out as the old husband of a young 
wife ; he feared that she would learn that she 
might have married more happily ; and, de- 
sirous of engrossing her all to himself, a smile 
spent on another was treason to the abso- 
lute nature of his rights. At first she was 
blind to his bad qualities. A thousand times 
he frowned when she was gay — a thousand 



FALKNER. 293 

times ill humour and cutting reproofs were 
the results of her appearing charming to others, 
before she discovered the selfish and con- 
temptible nature of his passion, and became 
aware that, to please him, she must blight and 
uproot all her accomplishments, all her fasci 
nations ; that she must for ever curb her wish 
to spread happiness around; that she, the very 
soul of generous unsuspecting goodness, must 
become cramped in a sort of bed of Procrustes, 
now having one portion lopped off, and then 
another, till the maimed, and half-alive rem- 
nant should resemble the soulless niggard ty- 
rant, whose every thought and feeling centred 
in his Lilliputian self. That she did at last make 
this discovery, cannot be doubted ; though she 
never disclosed her disappointment, nor com- 
plained of the tyranny from which she suffered. 
She grew heedful not to displease, guarded 
in her behaviour to others, and so accommo- 
dated her manner to his wishes, as showed 
that she feared, but concealed that she no 



294 FALKNER. 

longer esteemed him. A new reserve sprang 
up in her character, which after all was not 
reserve ; for it was only the result of her fear 
to give pain, and of her unalterable principles. 
Had she spoken of her husband's faults, it 
would have been to himself — but she had no 
spirit of governing — and quarrelling and con- 
tention were the antipodes of her nature. If, 
indeed, this silent yielding to her husband's 
despotism was contrary to her original frank- 
ness, it was a sacrifice made to what she es- 
teemed her duty, and never went beyond the 
silence which best becomes the injured. 

" It cannot be doubted that she was alive to 
her husband's faults. Generous, she was re- 
strained by his selfishness ; enthusiastic, she 
was chilled by his worldly wisdom ; sympa- 
thetic, she was rebuked by a jealousy that de- 
manded every feeling. She was like a poor 
bird, that with untired wing would mount 
gaily to the skies, when on each side the wires 
of the aviary impede its flight. Still it was 



FALKNER. 295 

her principle that we ought not to endeavour 
to form a destiny for ourselves, but to act well 
our part on the scene where Providence has 
placed us. She reflected seriously, and per- 
haps sadly, for the first time in her life ; and 
she formed a system for herself, which would 
give the largest extent to the exercise of her 
natural benevolence, and yet obviate the sus- 
picions, and cure the fears, of her narrow- 
minded, self-engrossed husband. 

"In pursuance of her scheme, she made it 
her request that they should take up their 
residence entirely at their seat in the north 
of England ; giving up London society, and 
transforming herself altogether into a coun- 
try lady. In her benevolent schemes, in the 
good she could there do, and in the few 
friends she could gather round her, against 
whom her husband could form no possible 
objection, she felt certain of possessing a con- 
siderable share of rational happiness — exempt 
from the hurry and excitement of town, for 



296 FALKNER. 

which her sensitive and ardent mind rendered 
her very unfit, under the guidance of a man 
who at once desired that she should hold a 
foremost place, and was yet disturbed by the 
admiration which she elicited. Sir Boyvill 
complied with seeming reluctance, but real 
exultation. He possesses a delightful seat in 
the southern part of Cumberland. Here, 
amidst a simple-hearted peasantry, and in a 
neighbourhood where she could cultivate many 
social pleasures, she gave herself up to a life 
which would have been one of extreme happi- 
ness, had not the exactions, the selfishness, the 
uncongenial mind of Sir Boyvill, debarred her 
from the dearest blessing of all — sympathy 
and friendship with the partner of her life. 

" Still she was contented. Her temper was 
sweet, and yielding. She did not look on 
each cross in circumstance as an injury, or a 
misfortune ; but rather as a call on her phi- 
losophy, which it was her duty to meet cheer- 
fully. Her heart was too warm not to shrink 



FALKNER. 297 

with pain from her husband's ungenerous na- 
ture, but she had a resource, to which she 
gave herself up with ardour. She turned 
the full, but checked tide of her affections, 
from her husband to her son. Gerard was 
all in all to her — her hope, her joy, her idol, 
and he returned her love with more than 
a child's affection. His sensibility developed 
early, and she cultivated it perhaps too much. 
She wished to secure a friend — and the tempt- 
ation afforded by the singular affectionateness 
of his disposition, and his great intelligence, 
was too strong. Mr. Neville strongly objected 
to the excess to which she carried her mater- 
nal cares, and augured ill of the boy's devotion 
to her ; but here his interference was vain, 
the mother could not alter ; and the child, 
standing at her side, eyed his father even then 
with a sort of proud indignation, on his daring 
to step in between them. 

"To Mrs. Neville, this boy was as an angel 
sent to comfort her. She could not bear that 

o3 



298 FALKNER. 

any one should attend on him except herself — 
she was his playmate, and instructress. When 
he opened his eyes from sleep, his mother's 
face was the first he saw ; she hushed him to 
rest at night — did he hurt himself, she flew to 
his side in agony — did she utter one word of 
tender reproach, it curbed his childish passions 
on the instant — he seldom left her side, but 
she was young enough to share his pastimes — 
her heart overflowed with its excess of love, 
and he, even as a mere child, regarded her as 
something to protect, as well as worship. 

" Mr. Neville was angry, and often reproved 
her too great partialit}-, though by degrees it 
won some favour in his eyes. Gerard was 
his son and heir, and he might be supposed to 
have a share in the affection lavished on him. 
He respected, also, the absence of frivolous 
vanity, that led her to be happy with her 
child — contented, away from London — satisfied 
in fulfilling the duties of her station, though 
his eyes only were there to admire. He per- 



FALKNER. 299 

suaded himself that there must exist much 
latent attachment towards himself, to recon- 
cile her to this sort of exile ; and her disin- 
terestedness received the reward of his confi- 
dence, — he who never before believed or re- 
spected woman. He began to yield to her 
more than he was wont, and to consider that 
he ought now and then to show some approba- 
tion of her conduct. 

" When Gerard was about six years old, 
they went abroad on a tour. Travelling was a 
mode of passing the time, that accorded well 
with Mr. Neville's matrimonial view of keep- 
ing his wife to himself. In the travelling 
carriage, he only was beside her ; in seeing 
sights, he, who had visited Italy before, and 
had some taste, could guide and instruct her ; 
and short as their stay in each town was, there 
was no possibility of forming serious attach- 
ments, or lasting friendships ; at the same 
time his vanity was gratified by seeing his 
wife and son admired by strangers and natives. 



300 FALKNER. 

While abroad, Mrs. Neville bore another child, 
a little girL This added greatly to her do- 
mestic happiness. Her husband grew ex- 
tremely fond of his baby daughter ; there was 
too much difference of age, to set her up as a 
rival to Gerard ; she was by contradistinction 
the father's darling it is true, but this rather 
produced harmony than discord — for the 
mother loved both children too well to feel 
hurt by the preference ; and, softened by hav- 
ing an object he really loved to lavish his 
favour on, Sir Boyvill grew much more of a 
tender father, and indulgent husband, than 
he had hitherto shown himself. 



FALKNER. 301 



CHAPTER XVII. 



" It was not until a year after their return 
from abroad that the events happened which 
terminated so disastrously Mrs. Neville's ca- 
reer in her own family. I am perplexed how to 
begin the narration, the story is so confused 
and obscure ; the mystery that envelops the 
catastrophe, so impenetrable ; the circum- 
stances that we really know so few, and these 
gleaned, as it were ear by ear, as dropped in 
the passage of the event ; so making, if you will 
excuse my rustic metaphor, a meagre, ill- 
assorted sheaf. Mrs. Neville had been a wife 



302 FALKNER. 

nearly ten years ; never had she done one act 
that could be disapproved by the most cir- 
cumspect ; never had she swerved from that 
veracity and open line of conduct which was 
a safeguard against the mingled ardour and 
timidity of her disposition. It required ex- 
traordinary circumstances to taint her repu- 
tation, as, to say the least, it is tainted ; and 
we are still in the dark as to the main in- 
strument by which these circumstances were 
brought about. Their result is too obvious. 
At one moment Mrs. Neville was an honoured 
and beloved wife ; a mother, whose heart's 
pulsations depended on the well-being of her 
children ; and whose fond affection was to 
them as the sun's warmth to the opening 
flower. At the next, where is she ? Silence 
and mystery wrap her from us ; and surmise 
is busy in tracing shapes of infamy from the 
fragments of truth that we can gather. 

" On the return of the family from abroad, 
they again repaired to their seat of Dromore ; 



FALKNER. 303 

and, at the time to which I allude, Mr. Neville 
had left them there, to go to London on busi- 
ness. He went for a week; but his stay was 
prolonged to nearly two months. He heard re- 
gularly from his wife. Her letters were more 
full of her children and household than herself; 
but they were kind ; and her maternal heart 
warmed, as she wrote, into anticipations of fu- 
ture happiness in her children, greater even 
than she now enjoyed. Every line breathed of 
home and peace ; every word seemed to ema- 
nate from a mind in which lurked no concealed 
feeling, no one thought unconfessed or un- 
approved. To such a home, cheered by so 
much beauty and excellence, Sir Boyvill re- 
turned, as he declares, with eager and grateful 
affection. The time came when he was expected 
at home ; and true, both to the day and to the 
hour, he arrived. It was at eleven at night. 
His carriage drove through the grounds ; the 
doors of the house were thrown open ; several 
eager faces were thrust forward with more of 



304 FALKNER. 

curiosity and anxiety than is at all usual in 
an English household ; and as he alighted, 
the servants looked aghast, and exchanged 
glances of terror. The truth was soon divulged. 
At about six in the evening, Mrs. Neville, 
who dined early in the absence of her hus- 
band, had gone to walk in the park with 
Gerard; since then neither had returned. 

"When the darkness, which closed in 
with a furious wind and thunder-storm, ren- 
dered her prolonged absence a matter of soli- 
citude, the servants had gone to seek her in 
the grounds. They found their mistress's 
key in the lock of a small masked gate that 
opened on a green lane. They went one way 
up the lane to meet her; but found no trace. 
They followed the other, with like ill success. 
Again they searched the park with more care ; 
and again resorted to the lanes and fields ; 
but in vain. The obvious idea was, that she 
had taken shelter from the storm ; and a hor- 
rible fear presented itself, that she might have 



FALKNER. 305 

found no better retreat than a tree or hay- 
rick, and that she had been struck by the 
lightning. A slight hope remained, that she 
had gone along the high-road to meet her 
husband, and would return with him. His 
arrival alone took from them this last hope. 

" The country was now raised. Servants and 
tenants were sent divers ways; some on horse- 
back, some on foot. Though summer-time, the 
night was inclement and tempestuous ; a furious 
west wind swept the earth ; high trees were 
bowed to the ground ; and the blast howled 
and roared, at once baffling and braving every 
attempt to hear cries or distinguish sounds. 

" Dromore is situated in a beautiful, but wild 
and thinly inhabited part of Cumberland, on 
the verge of the plain that forms the coast 
where it first breaks into uplands, dingles and 
ravines ; there is no high road towards the 
sea — but as they took the one that led to 
Lancaster, they approached the ocean, and 
the distant roar of its breakers filled up the 



306 FALKNER. 

pauses of the gale. It was on this road, at 
the distance of some five miles from the 
house, that Gerard was found. He was lying 
on the road in a sort of stupor — which could 
be hardly called sleep — his clothes were 
drenched by the storm — and his limbs stiff* 
from cold. When first found, and disturbed, 
he looked wildly round ; and his cry was for 
his mother — terror was painted in his face — 
and his intellects seemed deranged by a sud- 
den and terrific shock. He was taken home. 
His father hurried to him, questioning him 
eagerly — but the child only raved that his 
mother was being carried from him ; and his 
pathetic cry of, ' Come back, mamma — stop 
— stop for me !' filled every one with terror 
and amazement. As speedily as possible medi- 
cal assistance was sent for ; the physician found 
the boy in a high fever, the result of fright, ex- 
posure to the storm, and subsequent sleep in his 
wet clothes in the open air. It was many days 
before his life could be answered for — or the 



FALKNER. 307 

delirium left him — and still he raved that his 
mother was being carried off — and would not 
stop for him, and often he tried to rise from 
his bed under the notion of pursuing her. 

"At length consciousness returned — con- 
sciousness of the actual objects around him, 
mingled with an indistinct recollection of the 
events that immediately preceded his illness. 
His pulse was calm ; his reason restored ; and 
he lay quietly with open eyes fixed on the door 
of his chamber. At last he showed symptoms 
of uneasiness, and asked for his mother. 
Mr. Neville was called, as he had desired he 
might be, the moment his son showed signs 
of being rational. Gerard looked up in his 
father's face with an expression of disappoint- 
ment, and again murmured, 6 Send mamma 
to me.' 

"Fearful of renewing his fever by awaken- 
ing his disquietude, his father told him that 
mamma was tired and asleep, and could not 
be disturbed. 



308 FALKNER. 

" 'Then she has come back?' he cried; 
' that man did not take her quite away ? The 
carriage drove here at last.' 

" Such words renewed all their consternation. 
Afraid of questioning the child himself, lest 
he should terrify him, Mr. Neville sent the 
nurse who had been with him from infancy, to 
extract information. His story was wild and 
strange ; and here I must remark that the 
account drawn from him by the woman's 
questions, differs somewhat from that to which 
he afterwards adhered ; though not so much 
in actual circumstances, as in the colouring 
given. This his father attributes to his subse- 
quent endeavours to clear his mother from 
blame; while he asserts, and I believe with 
truth, that time and knowledge, by giving 
him an insight into motives, threw a new light 
on the words and actions which he remem- 
bered ; and that circumstances which bore 
one aspect to his ignorance, became clearly 
visible in another, when he was able to under- 



FALKNER. 309 

stand the real meaning of several fragments 
of conversation which had at first been devoid 
of sense. 

" All that he could tell during this first stage 
of inquiry was, that his mother had taken him 
to walk with her in the grounds, that she had 
unlocked the gate that opened out on the lane 
with her own key, and that a gentleman was 
without waiting. 

" Had he ever seen the gentleman before ? 

" Never ; he did not know him, and the 
stranger took no notice of him ; he heard his 
mamma call him Rupert. 

" His mother took the stranger's arm, and 
walked on through the lane, while he some- 
times ran on before, and sometimes remained 
at her side. They conversed earnestly, and his 
mother at one time cried ; he, Gerard, felt 
very angry with the gentleman for making 
her cry, and took her hand and begged her to 
leave him and come away ; but she kissed 



310 FALKNER. 

the boy, told him to run on, and they would 
return very soon. 

"Yet they did not return, but walked on to 
where the lane was intersected by the high 
road. Here they stopped, and continued to con- 
verse ; but it seemed as if she were saying 
good bye to the stranger, when a carriage, 
driven at full speed, was seen approaching ; it 
stopped close to them ; it was an open carriage, 
a sort of calcche, with the head pulled forward 
low down ; as it stopped, his mother went up to 
it, when the stranger, pulling the child's hand 
from hers, hurried her into the carriage, and 
sprang in after, crying out to him, c Jump in, 
my boy!' but before he could do so, the 
postillion whipped the horses, who started for- 
ward almost with a bound, and were in a 
gallop on the instant ; he heard his mother 
scream ; the words ' My child ! my son ! ' 
reached his ears, shrieked in agony. He ran 
wildly after the carriage ; it disappeared, but 



FALKNER. 311 

still he ran on. It must stop somewhere, and 
he would reach it, his mother had called for 
him : and thus, crying, breathless, panting, he 
ran along the high road ; the carriage had 
long been out of sight, the sun had set ; the 
wind, rising in gusts, brought on the thunder 
storm ; yet, still he pursued, till nature and 
his boyish strength gave way, and he threw 
himself on the ground to gain breath. At 
every sound which he fancied might be that 
of carriage wheels, he started up ; but it was 
only the howling of the blast in the trees, and 
the hoarse muttering of the now distant 
thunder; twice and thrice he rose from the 
earth, and ran forwards; till, wet through, 
and utterly exhausted, he lay on the ground, 
weeping bitterly, and expecting to die. 

"This was all his* story. It produced a strict 
inquiry among the servants, and then circum- 
stances scarcely adverted to were remembered, 
and some sort of information gained. About 
a week or ten days before, a gentleman on 



312 FALKNER. 

horseback, unattended by any servant, had 
called. He asked for Mrs. Neville ; the ser- 
vant requested his name, but he muttered that 
it was no matter. He was ushered into the 
room, where their mistress was sitting ; he 
staid at least two hours; and when he was 
gone, they remarked that her eyes were red, 
as if she had been weeping. The stranger 
called again, and Mrs. Neville was denied to 
him. 

" Inquiries were now instituted in the neigh- 
bourhood. One or two persons remembered 
something of a stranger gentleman who had 
been seen riding about the country, mounted 
on a fine bay horse. One evening, he was 
seen coming from the masked gate in the 
park, which caused it to be believed that he 
was on a visit at Dromore. Nothing more 
was known of him. 

" The servants tasked themselves to remem- 
ber more particularly the actions of their lady, 
and it was remembered that one evening she 



FALKNER. 313 

went to walk alone in the grounds, some 
accident having prevented Gerard from ac- 
companying her. She returned very late, 
at ten o'clock; and there was, her maid 
declared, a good deal of confusion in her 
manner. She threw herself on a sofa, 
ordered the lights to be taken away, and 
remained alone for two hours past her usual 
time for retiring for the night, till, at last, 
her maid ventured in to ask her if she needed 
anything. She was awake, and when lights 
were brought, had evidently been weeping. 
After this, she only went out in the carriage 
with the children, until the fatal night of her 
disappearance. It was remembered, also, 
that she received several letters, brought by a 
strange man, who left them without waiting 
for any answer. She received one the very 
morning of the day when she left her home, 
and this last note was found ; it threw some 
light on the fatal mystery. It was only dated 
vol. i. p 



314 FALKNER. 

with the day of the week, and began ^ab- 
ruptly : — 

" ' On one condition I will obey you ; I will 
never see you more — I will leave the country ; 
I will forget my threats against the most 
hated life in the world ; he is safe, on one 
condition. You must meet me this evening; 
I desire to see you for the last time. Come to 
the gate of your park that opens on the lane, 
which you opened for me a few nights ago ; 
you will find me waiting outside. I will not 
detain you long. A farewell to you and to 
my just revenge shall be breathed at once. If 
you do not come, I will wait till night, till I 
am past hope, and then enter your grounds, 
wait till he returns, and — Oh, do not force me 
to say what you will call wicked and worse 
than unkind, but come, come, and prevent all 
ill. I charge you come, and hereafter you 
shall, if you please, be for ever delivered from 
vour " * Rupert.' 



FALKNER. 315 

" On this letter she went; yet in innocence, 
for she took her child with her. Could any 
one doubt that she was betrayed, carried off, 
the victim of the foulest treachery ? No one 
did doubt it. Police were sent for from Lon- 
don, the country searched, the most minute 
inquiries set on foot. Sometimes it was sup- 
posed that a clue was found, but in the end 
all failed. Month after month passed ; hope 
became despair ; pity merged into surmise ; 
and condemnation quickly followed. If she 
had been carried forcibly from her home, still 
she could not for ever be imprisoned and de- 
barred from all possibility at least of writing. 
She might have sent tidings from the ends of 
the earth, nay, it was madness to think that 
she could be carried far against her own will. 
In any town, in any village, she might appeal to 
the justice and humanity of her fellow-crea- 
tures, and be set free. She would not have 
remained with the man of violence who had 
torn her away, unless she had at last become 



316 FALKNER. 

a party in his act, and lost all right to return 
to her husband's roof. 

" Such suspicions began to creep about — 
rather felt in men's minds, than inferred in 
their speech — till her husband first uttered 
the fatal word ; and then, as if set free from a 
spell, each one was full of indignation at her 
dereliction, and his injuries. Sir Boyvill was 
beyond all men vain — vanity rendered him 
liable to jealousy — and when jealous, full of 
sore and angry feelings. His selfishness and 
unforgiving nature, which had been neutralized 
by his wife's virtues, now quickened by the 
idea of her guilt, burst forth and engrossed 
every other emotion. He was injured there 
where the pride of man is most accessible — 
branded by pity — the tale of the world. He 
had feared such a catastrophe during the first 
years of his wedded life, being conscious of the 
difference which age and nature had placed be- 
tween him and his wife. In the recesses of his 
heart he had felt deeply grateful to her for 



FALKNER. 317 

having dissipated these fears. From the mo- 
ment that her prudent conduct had made him 
secure, he had become another man — as far as 
his defective nature and narrow mind permitted 
— he had grown virtuous and disinterested \ 
but this fabric of good qualities was the result 
of her influence ; and it was swept away and 
utterly erased from the moment she left him, 
and that love and esteem were exchanged for 
contempt and hatred. 

"Soon, very soon, had doubts of his wife's 
allegiance, and a suspicion of her connivance, 
insinuated themselves. Like all evilly in- 
clined persons, he jumped at once into a 
belief of the worst ; her taking her son with 
her was a mere contrivance, or worse, since 
her design had probably been to carry him 
with her — a design frustrated by accident, and 
the lukewarmness of her lover on that point ; 
the letter left behind, he looked on as a fabri- 
cation left there to gloss over her conduct. He 
forgot her patient goodness—her purity of soul 

p2 



318 FA.LKNER. 

— her devoted attachment to her children — 
her truth; and attributed at once the basest 
artifice — the grossest want of feeling. Want 
of feeling in her ! She whose pulses quick- 
ened, and whose blushes were called up at 
a word ; she who idolized her child even to a 
fault, and whose tender sympathy was alive to 
every call ; but these demonstrations of sensi- 
bility grew into accusations. Her very good- 
ness and guarded propriety were against her. 
Why appear so perfect, except to blind ? Why 
seclude herself, except from fears, which real 
virtue need never entertain ? Why foster the 
morbid sensibility of her child, except from a 
craving for that excitement which is a token 
of depravity? In this bad world we are 
apt to consider every deviation from stony 
apathy as tending at last to the indulgence of 
passions against which society has declared a 
ban; and thus with poor Alithea, all could 
see, it was said, that a nature so sensitive 
must end in ill at last; and that, if tempted, 



FALKNER. 



319 



she must yield to an influence, which few, 
even of the coldest natures, can resist. 

"While Sir Boyvill revolved these thoughts, 
he grew gloomy and sullen. At first his in- 
creased unhappiness was attributed to sorrow ; 
but a little word betrayed the real source — a 
little word that named his wife with scorn. 
That word turned the tide of public feeling ; 
and she, who had been pitied and wept as dead, 
was now regarded as a voluntary deserter from 
her home. Her virtues were remembered 
against her ; and surmises, which before would 
have been reprobated almost as blasphemy, 
became current as undoubted truths. 

" It was long before Gerard became aware 
of this altered feeling. The minds of children 
are such a mystery to us ! They are so blank, 
yet so susceptible of impression, that the 
point where ignorance ends and knowledge 
is perfected, is an enigma often impossible to 
solve. From the time that he rose from his 
sick bed, the boy was perpetually on the 



320 FALKNEK. 

watch for intelligence — eagerly inquiring what 
discoveries were made — what means were used 
for, what hopes entertained of, his mother's 
rescue. He had asked his father, whether he 
should not be justified in shooting the vil- 
lain who had stolen her, if ever he met him ? 
He had shed tears of sorrow and pity, until 
indignation swallowed up each softer feeling, 
and a desire to succour and to avenge became 
paramount. His dear, dear mother! that she 
should be away — kept from him by force — 
that he could not find — not get at her, were 
ideas to incense his young heart to its very 
height of impatience and rage. Every one 
seemed too tame — too devoid of expedients 
and energy. It appeared an easy thing to 
measure the whole earth, step by step, and 
inch by inch, leaving no portion uninspected, 
till she was found and liberated. He longed 
to set off on such an expedition ; it was his 
dream by night and day ; and he communi- 
cated these bursting feelings to every one, 



FALKNER. 321 

with an overflowing eloquence, inexpressibly 
touching from its truth and earnestness. 

" Suddenly he felt the change. Perhaps 
some officious domestic suggested the idea. He 
says himself, it came on him as infection may 
be caught by one who enters an hospital. He 
saw it in the eyes — he felt it in the air and 
manner of all : his mother was believed to be 
a voluntary fugitive ; of her own accord she 
went, and never would return. At the thought 
his heart grew sick within him : 

" * To see his nobleness ! 
Conceiving the dishonour of his mother, 
He straight declined upon't, drooped, took it deeply; 
Fastened and fixed the shame on't in himself ; 
Threw off his spirit, his appetite, his sleep, 
And downright languished.' 

He refused food, and turned in disgust from 
every former pursuit . Hitherto he had ardent- 
ly longed for the return of his mother ; and it 
seemed to him that give his limbs but a man- 
lier growth, let a few years go over, and he 



322 FALKNER. 

should find and bring her back in triumph. 
But that contumely and disgrace should fall 
on that dear mother's head; how could he 
avert that ? The evil was remediless, and death 
was slight in comparison. One day he walked 
up to his father, and fixing his clear young 
eyes upon him, said : ' I know what you 
think, but it is not true. Mamma would 
come back if she could. When I am a man 
I will find and bring her back, and you will 
be sorry then !' 

" What more he would have said was lost in 
sobs. His heart had beat impetuously as he 
had worked on himself to address his father, 
and assert his mother's truth ; but the con- 
sciousness that she was indeed gone, and that 
for years there was no hope of seeing her, 
broke in — his throat swelled, he felt suffo- 
cated, and fell down in a fit." 

END OF VOL. I. 

STEVENS AND PARDON, PRINTERS, BELL YARD, TEMPLE BAR. 




FALKNER 



A NOVEL 



BY 



THE AUTHOR OF "FRANKENSTEIN;" 
" THE LAST MAN," &c. 

kilty, Mrs. fay WM^c^ir(GJ^ 



" there stood 

In record of a sweet sad story, 
An altar, and a temple bright, 
Circled by steps, and o'er the gate 
Was sculptured, ' To Fidelity!' " 

Shelley. 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 
VOL. II. 



LONDON 
SAUNDERS AND OTLEY CONDUIT STREET 

1837 






STEVENS AND PARDON, PRINTERS, 
F.ELL YARD, TEMPLE BAR. 



FALKNER. 



CHAPTER I. 

Lady Cecil had broken off her tale on their 
return from their morning drive. She re- 
sumed it in the evening, as she and Elizabeth 
sat looking on the summer woods ; and the 
soft but dim twilight better accorded with her 
melancholy story. 

" Poor Gerard ! His young heart was almost 
broken by struggling passions, and the want 
of tenderness in those about him. After 
this scene with his father his life was again 
in the greatest danger for some days, but 
at last health of body returned. He lay 

VOL. II. B 



I FALKNER. 

on his little couch, pale and wasted, an 
altered child — but his heart was the same, 
and he adhered tenaciously to one idea. 
' Nurse,' he said one day, to the woman 
who had attended him from his birth, ' I 
wish you would take pen and paper, and 
write down what I am going to say. Or if 
that is too much trouble, I wish you would 
remember every word and repeat it to my 
father. I cannot speak to him. He does 
not love mamma as he used ; he is unjust, and 
1 cannot speak to him — but I wish to tell every 
little thing that happened, that people may 
see that what I say is true — and be as sure as 
I am that mamma never meant to go away. 

" ' When we met the strange gentleman first, 
we walked along the lane, and I ran about 
gathering flowers — yet I remember I kept 
thinking, why is mamma offended with that 
gentleman? — what right has he to displease 
her? and I came back with it in my mind to 
tell him that he should not say anything to 



FALKNER. 



annoy mamma; but when I took her hand, 
she seemed no longer angry, but very, very 
sorry. I remember she said — "I grieve 
deeply for you, Rupert" — and then she added 
— " My good wishes are all I have to give" — 
I remember the words, for they made me fancy, 
in a most childish manner, mamma must have 
left her purse at home — and I began to think 
of my own — but seeing him so well dressed, I 
felt a few shillings would do him no good. 
Mamma talked on very softly — looking up 
in the stranger's face ; he was tall — taller, 
younger — and better looking than papa : and 
I ran on again, for I did not know what they 
were talking about. At one time mamma 
called me and said she would go back, and I 
was very glad, for it was growing late and I 
felt hungry — but the stranger said : " Only 
a little further — to the end of the lane only," 
so we walked on and he talked about her for- 
getting him, and she said something that that 
was best — and he ought to forget her. On 

b2 



4 FALKNER. 

this he burst forth very angrily, and I grew 
angry too — but he changed, and asked her 
to forgive him — and so we reached the end 
of the lane. 

" ' We stopped there, and mamma held out 
her hand and said — Farewell ! — and something 
more — when suddenly we heard the sound of 
wheels, and a carriage came at full speed 
round from a turn in the road ; it stopped close 
to us — her hand trembled which held mine — 
and the stranger said — " You see I said true — I 
am going — and shall soon be far distant ; I ask 
but for one half hour — sit in the carriage, it 
is getting cold." — Mamma said : " No, no — it is 
late — farewell ;" but as she spoke, the stranger 
as it were led her forward, and in a moment 
lifted her up ; he seemed stronger than any two 
men — and put her in the carriage — and got 
in himself, crying to me to jump after, which I 
would have done, but the postillion whipped the 
horses. I was thrown almost under the wheel 
by the sudden motion — I heard mamma scream, 



FALKNER. 5 

but when I got up the carriage was already a 
long way off — and though I called as loud as 
I could — and ran after it — it never stopped, 
and the horses were going at full gallop. I 
ran on — thinking it would stop or turn back — 
and I cried out on mamma — while I ran so 
fast that I was soon breathless — and she was out 
of hearing — and then I shrieked and cried, and 
threw myself on the ground — till I thought I 
heard wheels, and I got up and ran again — but 
it was only the thunder — and that pealed, and 
the wind roared, and the rain came down — 
and I could keep my feet no longer, but fell 
on the ground and forgot every thing, except 
that mamma must come back and I was watch- 
ing for her. And this, nurse, is my story — 
Every word is true — and is it not plain that 
mamma was carried away by force ? ' 

" * Yes,' said the woman, * no one doubts 
that, Master Gerard — but why does she not 
come back ? — no man could keep her against 
her will in a Christian country like this/ 



FALKNER. 



" ' Because she is dead or in prison/ cried 
the boy, bursting into tears — ' but I see you 
are as wicked as every body else — and have 
wicked thoughts too — and I hate you and every 
body — except mamma. ? 

"From that time Gerard was entirely alter- 
ed; his boyish spirit was dashed — he brooded 
perpetually over the wrong done his mother — 
and was irritated to madness, by feeling that by 
a look and a word he could not make others 
share his belief in her spotless innocence. He 
became sullen, shy — shut up in himself — 
above all, he shunned his father. Months 
passed away : — requisitions, set on foot at first 
from a desire to succour, were continued from 
a resolve to revenge; no pains nor expense 
were spared to discover the fugitives, and all in 
vain. The opinion took root that they had fled 
to America — and who on that vast continent 
could find two beings resolved on concealment? 
Inquiries were made at New York and other 
principal towns : but all in vain. 



FALKNER. 



" The strangest, and most baffling circum- 
stance in this mystery was, that no guess 
could be formed as to who the stranger was. 
Though he seemed to have dropped from the 
clouds, he had evidently been known long 
before to Mrs. Neville. His name, it ap- 
peared, was Rupert — no one knew of any 
bearing that name. Had Alithea loved before 
her marriage ? such a circumstance must have 
been carefully hidden, for her husband had 
never suspected it. Her childhood had been 
spent with her mother, her father being mostly 
at sea. When sixteen, she lost her mother, 
and after a short interval resided with her 
father, then retired from service. He had 
assured Sir Boyvill that his daughter had never 
loved ; and the husband, jealous as he was, 
had never seen cause to doubt the truth of 
this statement. Had she formed any attach- 
ment during the first years of her married 
life? Was it to escape the temptation so held 
out, that she secluded herself in the country ? 



8 FALKNER. 

Rupert was probably a feigned name ; and Sir 
Boyvill tried to recollect who her favourites 
were, so to find a clue by their actions to 
her disappearance. It was in vain that he 
called to mind every minute circumstance, 
and pondered over the name of each visitor : 
he could remember nothing that helped dis- 
covery. Yet the idea that she had, several 
years ago, conceived a partiality for some man, 
who, as it proved, loved her to distraction, 
became fixed in Sir Boyvill's mind. The 
thought poured venom on the time gone by. 
Jt might have been a virtue in her to banish 
him she loved and to seclude herself: but this 
mystery, where all seemed so frank and open, 
this defalcation of the heart, this inward 
thought which made no sign, yet ruled every 
action, was gall and wormwood to her proud, 
susceptible husband. That in her secret soul 
she loved this other, was manifest — for though 
it might be admitted that he used art and 
violence to tear her from her home — yet in 



FALKNER. y 

the end she was vanquished ; and even mater- 
nal duties and affections sacrificed to irresis- 
tible passion. 

" Can you wonder that such a man as Sir 
Boyvill, ever engrossed by the mighty idea of 
self — yet fearful that that self should receive 
the minutest wound ; proud of his wife — be- 
cause, being so lovely and so admired, she 
was all his — grateful to her, for being so 
glorious and enviable a possession — can you 
wonder that this vain, but sensitive man, 
should be wound up to the height of jealous 
rage, by the loss of such a good, accompanied 
by circumstances of deception and dishonour? 
He had been fond of his wife in return for her 
affection, while she in reality loved another ; 
he had respected the perfection of her truth, 
and there was falsehood at the core. Had she 
avowed the traitor passion ; declared her 
struggles, and, laying bare her heart, con- 
fessed that, while she preferred his honour and 
happiness, yet in the weakness of her nature, 

b3 



10 FALKNER. 

another had stolen a portion of that sentiment 
which she desired to consecrate to him — then 
with what tenderness he had forgiven her — 
with what soothing forbearance he had borne her 
fault — how magnanimous and merciful he had 
shown himself! But she had acted the gene- 
rous part ; thanks had come from him — the 
shows of obligation from her. He fancied 
that he held a flower in his hand, from which 
the sweetest perfume alone could be extracted 
— but the germ was blighted, and the very 
core turned to bitter ashes and dust. 

" Such a theme is painful ; howsoever we 
view it, it is scarcely possible to imagine any 
event in life more desolating. To be happy, 
is to attain one's wishes, and to look forward 
to the lastingness of their possession. Sir 
Boyvill had long been sceptical and distrust- 
ing — but at last he was brought to believe 
that he had drawn the fortunate ticket ; that 
his wife's faith was a pure and perfect chryso- 
lite — and if in his heart he deemed that she 



FALKNER. 11 

did not regard hiui with all the reverence that 
was his due ; if she did not nurture all the 
pride of place, and disdain of her fellow- 
creatures which he thought that his wife ought 
to feel — yet her many charms and virtues left 
him no room for complaint. Her sensibility, 
her vivacity, her wit, her accomplishments — 
her exceeding loveliness — they were all unde- 
niably his — and all made her a piece of en- 
chantment. This merit was laid low — deprived 
of its crown — her fidelity to him ; and the 
selfish, the heartless, and the cold, whom she 
reproved and disliked, were lifted to the emi- 
nence of virtue, while she lay fallen, degraded, 
worthless. 

" Sir Boyvill was, in his own conceit, for ever 
placed on a pedestal ; and he loved to imagine 
that he could say, 'Look at me, you can see no 
defect ! I am a wealthy, and a well-born man. 
I have a wife the envy of all — children, who 
promise to inherit all our virtues. I am pros- 
perous — no harm can reach me — look at me !' 



12 FALKNER. 

He was still on his pedestal, but had become a 
mark for scorn, for pity ! Oh, how he loathed 
himself — how he abhorred her who had brought 
him to this pass ! He had, in her best days, 
often fancied that he loved her too well, yielded 
too often his pride-nurtured schemes to her 
soft persuasions. He had indeed believed that 
Providence had created this exquisite and most 
beautiful being, that life might be made perfect 
to him. Besides, his months, and days, and 
hours, had been replete with her image ; her 
very admirable qualities, accompanied as they 
were by the trembling delicacy, that droops 
at a touch, and then revives at a word ; her 
quickness, not of temper, but of feeling, which 
received such sudden and powerful impression, 
formed her to be at once admired and cherished 
with the care a sweet exotic needs, when 
transplanted from its sunny, native clime, to 
the ungenial temperature of a northern land. 
It was madness to recollect all the fears he 
had wasted on her. He had foregone the 



FALKNER. 



13 



dignity of manhood to wait on her — he had 
often feared to pursue his projects, lest they 
should jar some delicate chord in her frame ; 
to his own recollection it seemed, that he had 
become but the lackey to her behests — and all 
for the sake of a love, which she bestowed on 
another — to preserve that honour, which she 
blasted without pity. 

" It were in vain to attempt to delineate 
the full force of jealousy ; — -natural sorrow at 
losing a thing so sweet and dear was blended 
with anger, that he should be thrown off by her ; 
the misery of knowing that he should never see 
her more, was mingled with a ferocious desire 
to learn that every disaster was heaped on one 
whom hitherto he had, as well as he could, 
guarded from every ill. To this we may add, 
commiseration for his deserted children. His 
son, late so animated, so free-spirited and 
joyous, a more promising child had never 
blessed a father's hopes, was changed into a 
brooding, grief-struck, blighted visionary. His 



14 FALKNER. 

little girl, the fairy tiling he loved best of all, 
she was taken from him ; the carelessness of 
a nurse during a childish illness caused her 
death, within a year after her mother's flight. 
Had that mother remained, such carelessness 
had been impossible. Sir Boyvill felt that 
all good fell from him — the only remaining 
golden fruit dropped from the tree — calamity 
encompassed him; with his whole soul he ab- 
horred and desired to wreak vengeance on 
her who caused the ill. 

" After two years were past, and no tidings 
were received of the fugitives, it seemed plain 
that there could be but one solution to the 
mystery. No doubt she and her lover con- 
cealed themselves in some far land, under a 
feigned name. If indeed it were — if it be so, 
it might move any heart to imagine poor 
Alithea's misery — the obloquy that mantles 
over her remembrance at home, while she 
broods over the desolation of the hearth she so 
long adorned, and the pining, impatient an- 



FALKNER. 15 

guish of her beloved boy. What could or can 
keep her away, is matter of fearful conjecture ; 
but this much is certain, that, at that time at 
least, and now, if she survives, she must be 
miserable. Sir Boyvill, if he deigned to re- 
collect these things, enjoyed the idea of her 
anguish. But, without adverting to her state 
and feelings, he was desirous of obtaining 
what reparation he could ; and to dispossess 
her of his name. Endeavours to find the fugi- 
tives in America, and false hopes held out, had 
delayed the process. He at last entered on 
it with eagerness. A thousand obvious rea- 
sons rendered a divorce desirable ; and to 
him, with all his pride, then only would his 
pillow be without a thorn, when she lost his 
name, and every right, or tie, that bound 
them together. Under the singular circum- 
stances of the case, he could only obtain a 
divorce by a bill in parliament, and to this 
measure he resorted. 

" There was nothing reprehensible in this 



16 FALKNER. 

step ; self-defence, as well as revenge, sug- 
gested its expediency. Besides this, it may 
be said, that he was glad of the publicity that 
would ensue, that he might be proved blame- 
less to all the world. He accused his wife of 
a fault so great as tarnished irrecoverably 
her golden name. He accused her of being a 
false wife and an unnatural mother, under cir- 
cumstances of no common delinquency. But 
lie might be mistaken ; he might view his in- 
juries with the eye of passion, and others, 
more disinterested, might pronounce that she 
was unfortunate, but not guilty. By means 
of the bill for divorce, the truth would be 
investigated and judged by several hundreds 
of the best born and best educated of his 
countrymen. The publicity also might induce 
discovery. It was fair and just ; and though 
his pride rebelled against becoming the tale 
of the day, he saw no alternative. Indeed it 
was reported to him by some officious friend, 
that many had observed that it was strange 



FALKNER. 



17 



that he had not sought this remedy before. 
Something of wonder, or blame, or both, was 
attached to his passiveness. Such hints galled 
him to the quick, and he pursued his purpose 
with all the obstinacy and imperious haste 
peculiar to him. 

" When every other preliminary had been 
gone through, it was deemed necessary that 
Gerard should give his evidence at the bar 
of the House of Lords. Sir Boyvill looked 
upon his lost wife as a criminal, so steeped in 
deserved infamy, so odious, and so justly 
condemned, that none could hesitate in siding 
with him to free him from the bondage of 
those laws, which, while she bore his name, 
might be productive of incalculable injury. 
His honour too was wounded. His honour, 
which he would have sacrificed his life to 
have preserved untainted, he had intrusted 
to Alithea, and loved her the more fervently 
that she regarded the trust with reverence. 
She had foully betrayed it ; and must not all 



18 FALKNER. 

who respected the world's customs, and the 
laws of social life ; above all, must not any 
who loved him — be forward to cast her out 
from any inheritance of good that could reach 
her through him I 

" Above all, must not their son — his son, 
share his indignation, and assist his revenge? 
Gerard was but a boy ; but his mother's 
tenderness, his own quick nature, and lastly, 
the sufferings he had endured through her 
flight, had early developed a knowledge of 
the realities of life, and so keen a sense of 
right and justice, as made his father regard 
him as capable of forming opinions, and act- 
ing from such motives, as usually are little 
understood by one so young. And true it was 
that Gerard fostered sentiments independent 
of any teaching; and cherished ideas the more 
obstinately, because they were confined to his 
single breast. He understood the pity with 
which his father was regarded — the stigma 
cast upon his mother — the suppressed voice — 



FALKNER. 19 

the wink of the eye — the covert hint. He 
understood it all ; and, like the poet, longed 
for a word, sharp as a sword, to pierce the 
falsehood through and through. 

" For many months he and his father had 
seen little of each other. Sir Boyvill had not 
a mind that takes pleasure in watching the 
ingenuous sallies of childhood, or the de- 
velopment of the youthful mind ; the idea 
of making a friend of his child, which had 
been Alithea's fond and earnest aim, could 
never occur to his self-engrossed heart. Since 
his illness Gerard had been weakly, or he 
would have been sent to school. As it was, 
a tutor resided in the house. This person 
was written to by Sir Boyvill's man of busi- 
ness, and directed to break the matter to his 
pupil ; to explain the formalities, to soothe 
and encourage any timidity he might show, 
and to incite him, if need were, to a desire to 
assist in a measure, whose operation was to 
render justice to his father. 



20 FALKNER. 

" The first allusion to his mother made by 
Mr. Carter, caused the blood to rush from the 
boy's heart and to dye crimson his cheeks, 
his temples, his throat ; then he grew deadly 
pale, and without uttering a word, listened to 
his preceptor, till suddenly taking in the nature 
of the task assigned to him, every limb shook, 
and he answered by a simple request to be left 
alone, and he would consider. No more was 
thought by the unapprehensive people about, 
than that he was shy of being spoken to on 
the subject — that he would make up his mind 
in his own way — and Mr. Carter at once 
yielded to his request ; the reserve which had 
shrouded him since he lost his mother, had 
accustomed those about him to habitual 
silence. None — no one watchful, attached, 
intelligent eye marked the struggles which 
shook his delicate frame, blanched his cheek, 
took the flesh from his bones, and quickened 
his pulse into fever. None marked him as he 
lay in bed the livelong night, with open eyes 



FALKNER. 2 1 

and beating heart, a prey to contending emo- 
tion. He was passed carelessly by as he lay 
on the dewy grass from morn to evening, 
his soul torn by grief — uttering his mother's 
name in accents of despair, and shedding 
floods of tears. 

" I said that these signs of intense feeling 
were not remarked — and yet they were, in a 
vulgar way, by the menials, who said it would 
be well when the affair was over, Master 
Neville took it so to heart, and was sadly 
frightened. Frightened! such a coarse, un- 
distinguishing name was given to the sacred 
terror of doing his still loved mother injury, 
which heaved his breast with convulsive sobs 
and filled his veins with fire. 

" The thought of what he was called upon to 
do haunted him day and night with agony. 
He, her nursling, her idol, her child — he who 
could not think of her name without tears, 
and dreamed often that she kissed him in his 
sleep, and woke to weep over the delusion — 



22 FALKNER. 

he was to accuse her before an assembled 
multitude — to give support to the most in- 
famous falsehoods — to lend his voice to stig- 
matise her name; and wherever she was, kept 
from him by some irresistible power, but in- 
nocent as an angel, and still loving him, she 
was to hear of him as her enemy, and receive 
a last wound from his hand. Such appeared 
the task assigned to him in his eyes, for his 
blunt-witted tutor had spoken of the justice 
to be rendered his father, by freeing him from 
his fugitive wife, without regarding the inner 
heart of his pupil, or being aware that his 
mother sat throned there an angel of light 
and goodness, — the victim of ill, but doing 
none. 

" Soon after Mrs. Neville's flight, the family 
had abandoned the seat in Cumberland, and 
inhabited a house taken near the Thames, in 
Buckinghamshire. Here Gerard resided, 
while his father was in town, watching the 
progress of the bill. At last the day drew 



FALKNER. 23 

near when Gerard's presence was required. 
The peers showed a disposition, either from 
curiosity or a love of justice, to sift the affair 
to the uttermost, and the boy's testimony was 
declared absolutely necessary. Mr. Carter 
told Gerard that on the following morning 
they were to proceed to London, in pursuance 
of the circumstances which he had explained 
to him a few days before. 

" ' Is it then true,' said the boy, ' that I am 
to be called upon to give evidence, as you call 
it, against my mother ?' 

" ' You are called upon by every feeling of 
duty,' replied the sapient preceptor, ' to speak 
the truth to those whose decision will render 
justice to your father. If the truth injure 
Mrs. Neville, that is her affair.' 

''Again Gerard's cheeks burned with blushes, 
and his eyes, dimmed as they were with tears, 
flashed fire. c In that case,' he said, ' I beg 
to see my father.' 

" ' You will see him when in town,' replied 



24 FALKNER. 

Mr. Carter. ' Come, Neville, you must not 
take the matter in this girlish style ; show 
yourself a man. Your mother is unworthy — ' 

" ' Jf you please, sir,' said Gerrard, half 
choked, yet restraining himself, ' I will speak 
to my father ; I do not like any one else to 
talk to me about these things.' 

" * As you please, sir,' said Mr. Carter, much 
offended. 

" No more was said — it was evening. The 
next morning they set out for London. The 
poor boy had lain awake the whole night ; but 
no one knew or cared for his painful vigils/' 



FALKNER. 



25 



CHAPTER II. 



" On the following day the journey was per- 
formed; and it had been arranged that Gerard 
should rest on the subsequent one ; the third 
being fixed for his attendance in the House 
of Lords. Sir Boyvill had been informed how 
sullenly (that was the word they used) the boy 
had received the information conveyed to him 
by his tutor. He would rather have been ex- 
cused saying a word himself to his son on the 
subject; but this account, and the boy's re- 
quest to see him, forced him to change his pur- 
pose. He did not expect opposition; but he 

VOL. II. c 



26 FALKNER. 

wished to give a right turn to Gerard's ex- 
pressions. The sort of cold distance that 
separation and variance of feeling produced, 
rendered their intercourse little like the ten- 
der interchange of parental and filial love. 

" ' Gerard, my boy,' Sir Boyvill began, 
' we are both sufferers ; and you, like me, 
are not of a race tamely to endure injury. I 
would willingly have risked my life to revenge 
the ruin brought on us ; so I believe would 
you, child as you are ; but the sculking villain 
is safe from my arm. The laws of his country 
cannot even pursue him ; yet, what reparation 
is left, I must endeavour to get.' 

" Sir Boyvill showed tact in thus bringing 
forward only that party, whose act none could 
do other than reprobate, and who was the 
object of Gerard's liveliest hatred. His face 
lightened up with something of pleasure — 
his eye flashed fire ; to prove to the world the 
guilt and violence of the wretch who had torn 
his mother from him, was indeed a task of duty 



FALKNER. 27 

and justice. A little more forbearance on his 
father's part had wound him easily to his will ; 
but the policy Sir Boyvill displayed was invo- 
luntary, and his next words overturned all. 
* Your miserable mother/ he continued, ' must 
bear her share of infamy ; and if she be not 
wholly hardened, it will prove a sufficient 
punishment. When the events of to-morrow 
reach her, she will begin to taste of the bitter 
cup she has dealt out so largely to others. It 
were folly to pretend to regret that — I own 
that I rejoice.' 

Every idea now suffered revulsion, and the 
stream of feeling flowed again in its old chan- 
nel. What right had his father to speak thus 
of the beloved and honoured parent, he had so 
cruelly lost ? His blood boiled within him, and, 
despite childish fear and reverence, he said, ' If 
my mother will grieve or be injured by my ap- 
pearing to-morrow, I will not go — I cannot.' 

" ' You are a fool to speak thus,' said his 
father, ' a galless animal, without sense of pride 

c2 



28 FALKNER. 

or duty. Come, sir, no more of this. You 
owe me obedience, and you must pay it on this 
occasion. You are only bid speak the truth, 
and that you must speak. I had thought, not- 
withstandingyour youth, higher and more gene- 
rous motives might be urged — a father's honour 
vindicated — a mother's vileness punished.' 

" ' My mother is not vile !' cried Gerard, 
and there stopped ; for a thousand things restrain 
a child's tongue; inexperience, reverence, 
ignorance of the effect his words may produce, 
terror at the mightiness of the power with 
which he has to contend. After a pause, he 
muttered, * I honour my mother ; I will tell 
the whole world that she deserves honour.' 

V ' Now, Gerard, on my soul,' cried Sir 
Boyvill, roused to anger, as parents too easily 
are against their offspring, when they show 
any will of their own, while they expect to 
move them like puppets ; ' On my soul, my 
fine fellow, I could find it in my heart to 
knock you down. Enough of this ; I don't 



FALKNER. 29 

want to terrify you: be a good boy to-morrow, 
and I will forgive all.' 

" ' Forgive me now, father,' cried the youth, 
bursting into tears ; ' forgive me and spare 
nie ! I cannot obey you, I cannot do any thing 
that will grieve my mother ; she loved me so 
much — I am sure she loves me still — that I 
cannot do her a harm. I will not go to- 
morrow.' 

" ' This is most extraordinary,' said Sir Boy- 
vill, controlling, as well as he could, the rage 
swelling within him. 'And are you such an 
idiot as not to know that your wretched 
mother has forfeited all claim to your affection? 
and am I of so little worth in your eyes, I, 
your father, who have a right to your obedience 
from the justice of my cause, not to speak of 
parental authority, am I nothing? to receive 
no duty, expect no service? I was, indeed, 
mistaken ; I thought you were older than your 
years, and had that touch of gentlemanly pride 
about you, that would have made you eager 



FALKNER. 



to avenge my injuries, to stand by me as a 
friend and ally, compensating, as well as you 
could, for the wrongs done me by your mother. 
I thought I had a son in whose veins my own 
blood flowed, who would be ready to prove 
his true birth by siding with me. Are you 
stone — or a base-born thing, that you cannot 
even conceive what thing honour is V 

' ' Gerard listened, he wept; the tears poured 
in torrents from his eyes ; but as his father 
continued, and heaped many an opprobrious 
epithet on him, a proud and sullen spirit was 
indeed awakened ; he longed to say — Abuse 
me, strike me, but I will not yield ! Yet he 
did not speak ; he dried his eyes, and stood 
in silence before his parent, his face darkening, 
and something ferocious gleaming in eyes, 
hitherto so soft and sorrowing. Sir Boyvill 
saw that he was far from making the impres- 
sion he desired; but he wished to avoid 
reiterated refusals to obey, and he summed up 
at last with vague but violent threats of what 



FALKNER. 31 

would ensue — exile from his home, penury, 
nay, starvation, the abhorrence of the world, 
his own malediction ; and, after having worked 
himself up into a towering rage, and real 
detestation of the shivering, feeble, yet deter- 
mined child before him, he left him to consider, 
and to be vanquished. 

" Far other thoughts occupied Gerard. ' I 
had thought,' he has told me, ' once or twice 
to throw myself into his arms, and pray for 
mercy ; to kneel at his feet and implore him to 
spare me ; one kind word had made the struggle 
intolerable, but no kind word did he say ; and 
while he stormed, it seemed to me as if my dear 
mother were singing as she was used, while 
I gathered flowers and played beside her in 
the park, and I thought of her, not of him ; 
the words kick me out of doors, suggested but 
the idea I shall be free, and I will find my 
mother. I feel intensely now ; but surely a 
boy's feelings are far wilder, far more vehe- 
ment than a man's ; for I cannot now, violent 



32 FALKNER. 

as you think me, call up one sensation so 
whirlwind-like as those that possessed me 
while my father spoke ! ' 

" Thus has Gerard described his emotions; 
his father ordered him to quit the room, and 
he went to brood upon the fate impending over 
him. On the morrow early, he was bid 
prepare to attend the House of Lords. His 
father did not appear ; he thought that the 
boy was terrified, and would make no further 
resistance. Gerard, indeed, obeyed in silence. 
He disdained to argue with strangers and 
hirelings ; he had an idea that if he openly 
rebelled, he might be carried by force, and 
his proud heart swelled at the idea of com- 
pulsion. He got into the carriage, and, as he 
went, Mr. Carter, who was with him, thought 
it advisable to explain the forms, and give 
some instructions. Gerard listened with 
composure, nay, asked a question or two 
concerning the preliminaries ; he was told of 
the oath that would be administered ; and how 



FALKNER. 33 

the words he spoke after taking that oath 
would be implicitly believed, and that he must 
be careful to say nothing that was not strictly 
true. The colour, not an indignant blush, but 
a suffusion as of pleasure, mantled over his 
cheeks as this was explained. 

"They arrived; they were conducted into 
some outer room to await the call of the peers. 
What tortures the boy felt as strangers came 
up, some to speak, and others to gaze ; all of 
indignation, resolution, grief, and more than 
manhood's struggles that tore his bosom during 
the annoying delays that always protract these 
sort of scenes, none cared to scan. He was 
there unresisting, apparently composed ; if 
now his cheek flushed, and now his lips 
withered into paleness, if now the sense of 
suffocation rose in his throat, and now tears 
rushed into his eyes, as the image of his sweet 
mother passed across his memory, none regard- 
ed, none cared. When I have thought of the 
spasms and throes which his tender and 

c3 



34 FALKNER. 

high-wrought soul endured during this inter- 
val, I often wonder his heart-strings did not 
crack, or his reason for ever unsettle ; a^ it 
is, he lias not yet escaped the influence of that 
hour ; it shadows his life with eclipse, it conic- 
whispering agony to him, when otherwise he 
might forget. Some author has described the 
effect of misfortune on the virtuous, as the 
crushing of perfumes, so to force them to give 
forth their fragrance. Gerard is all noble- 
ness, all virtue, all tenderness ; do we owe 
any part of his excellence to this hour of 
anguish? If so, I may be consoled; but I 
can never think of it without pain. He says 
himself, ■ Yes ! without these sharp goading's, 
I had not devoted my whole life to clearing 
my mother's fame.' Is this devotion a good ? 
As yet no apparent benefit has sprung from 
it. 

" At length he was addressed : ' Young gen- 
tleman, are you ready?' and he was led into 
that stately chamber, fit for solemn and high 



FALKNER. 35 

debate — thronged with the judges of his 
mother's cause. There was a dimness in his 
eye — a tumult in his heart that confused him, 
while on his appearance there was first a mur- 
mur — then a general hush. Each regarded him 
with compassion as they discerned the marks 
of suffering in his countenance. A few mo- 
ments passed before he was addressed ; and 
when it was supposed that he had had time to 
collect himself, the proper officer administered 
the oath, and then the barrister asked him 
some slight questions, not to startle, but to 
lead back his memory by insensible degrees 
to the necessary facts. The boy looked at him 
with scorn — he tried to be calm, to elevate his 
voice; twice it faltered — the third time he 
spoke slowly but distinctly : ' I have sworn to 
speak the truth, and I am to be believed. My 
mother is innocent.' 

" ' But this is not the point, young gentle- 
man,' interrupted his interrogator, ' I only 



36 FALKNER. 

asked if you remembered your father's house 
in Cumberland.' 

" The boy replied more loudly, but with 
broken accents — ' I have said all I mean to 
say — you may murder me, but I will say no 
more — how dare you entice me into injuring 
my mother?' 

" At the word, uncontrollable tears burst 
forth, pouring in torrents down his burning 
cheeks. He told me that he well remembers 
the feeling that rose to his tongue, instigating 
him to cry shame on all present — but his voice 
failed, his purpose was too mighty for his 
young heart ; he sobbed and wept ; the more 
he tried to control the impulse, the more 
hysterical the fit grew — he was taken from 
the bar, and the peers, moved by his distress, 
came to a resolve that they would dispense 
with his attendance, and be satisfied by 
hearing his account of the transaction, from 
those persons to whom he made it, at 



FALKNER. 37 

the period when it occurred. I will now 
mention, that the result of this judicial in- 
quiry was a decree of divorce in Sir Boyvill's 
favour. 

" Gerard, removed from the bar, and carried 
home, recovered his composure — but he was 
silent- revolving the consequences which he 
expected would ensue from disobedience. His 
father had menaced to turn him out of doors, 
and he did not doubt but that this threat would 
be put into execution, so that he was somewhat 
surprised that he was taken home at all ; per- 
haps they meant to send him to a place of exile 
of their own choosing, perhaps to make the ex- 
pulsion public and ignominious. The powers 
of grown-up people appear so illimitable in a 
child's eyes, who have no data whereby to dis- 
cover the probable from the improbable. At 
length the fear of confinement became para- 
mount ; he revolted from it ; his notion was 
to go and seek his mother — and his mind was 
quickly made up to forestall their violence, 
and to run away. 



38 FALKNER. 

" He was ordered to confine himself to his 
own room — his food was brought to him — 
this looked like the confirmation of his fears. 
His heart swelled high : 'They think to treat 
me like a child, but I will show myself inde- 
pendent — wherever my mother is, she is better 
than they all — if she is imprisoned, I will free 
her, or I will remain with her ; how glad she 
will be to see me — how happy shall we be 
again together ! My father may have all the 
rest of the world to himself, when I am with 
my mother, in a cavern or a dungeon, I care 
not where.' 

" Night came on — he went to bed — he even 
slept, and awoke terrified to think that the 
opportune hour might be overpast — daylight 
was dawning faintly in the east ; the clocks of 
London struck four — he was still in time — 
every one in the house slept ; he rose and 
dressed — he had nearly ten guineas of his own, 
this was all his possession, he had counted 
them the night before — he opened the door of 
his chamber — daylight was struggling with 



FALKNER. 39 

darkness, and all was very still — he stepped 
out, he descended the stairs, he got into the hall 
— every accustomed object seemed new and 
strange at that early hour, and he looked with 
some dismay at the bars and bolts of the house 
door — he feared making a noise, and rousing 
some servant, still the thing must be attempted; 
slowly and cautiously he pushed back the 
bolts, he lifted up the chain — it fell from his 
hands with terrific clatter on the stone pave- 
ment — his heart was in his mouth — he did not 
fear punishment, but he feared ill success ; he 
listened as well as his throbbing pulses per- 
mitted — all was still — the key of the door was 
in the lock, it turned easily at his touch, and 
in another moment the door was open ; the 
fresh air blew upon his cheeks — -the deserted 
treet was before him. He closed the door 
after him, and with a sort of extra caution 
locked it on the outside and then took to his 
heels, throwing the key down a neighbouring 
street. When out of sight of his home, he 



40 FALKNER. 

walked more slowly, and began to think 
seriously of the course to pursue. To find his 
mother ! — all the world had been trying to find 
her, and had not succeeded — but he believed 
that bv some means she would hear of his 
escape and come to him — but whither go in the 
first instance? — his heart replied, to Cumber- 
land, to Dromore — there he had lived with his 
mother — there had he lost her — he felt assured 
that in its neighbourhood he should again be 
restored to her. 

"Travelling had given him some idea of 
distance, and of the modes of getting from one 
place to another — he felt that it would be a 
task of too great difficulty to attempt walking 
across England — he had no carriage, he knew 
of no ship to take him, some conveyance he 
must get, so he applied to a hackney coach. It 
was standing solitary in the middle of the 
street, the driver asleep on the steps — the 
skeleton horses hanging down their heads — 
with the peculiarly disconsolate look these 



FALKNER. 4 I 

poor hacked animals have. Gerard, as the 
son of a wealthy man, was accustomed to con- 
sider that he had a right to command those 
whom he could pay — yet fear of discovery and 
being sent back to his father, filled him with 
unusual fears ; he looked at the horses and the 
man — he advanced nearer, but he was afraid to 
take the decisive step, till the driver awaking, 
started up and shook himself, stared at the boy, 
and seeing him well dressed — and he looked 
too, older than his years, from being tall — he 
asked, ' Do you want me, sir?' 

" 'Yes,' said Gerard, 'I want you to drive me.' 
" ' Get in then. Where are you going V 
" 'I am going a long way — to Dromore, 
that is in Cumberland — ' 

" The boy hesitated ; it struck him that 
those miserable horses could not carry him 
far. ' Then you want me to take you to the 
stage,' said the man. ' It goes from Piccadilly 
— at five— we have no time to lose.' 

" Gerard got in — on they jumbled — and ar- 



42 FALKNER. 

riving at the coach office, saw some half dozen 
stages ready to start. The name of Liverpool 
on one struck the boy, by the familiar name. 
If he could get to Liverpool, it were easy 
afterwards even to walk to Dromore ; so getting 
out of the hackney coach, he went up to the 
coachman, who was mounting his box, and 
asked, ' Will you take me to Liverpool V 

" ' Yes, my fine fellow, if you can pay the 
fare.' 

" ' How much is it?' drawing out his purse. 

" ' Inside or outside?' 

" From the moment he had addressed these 
men, and they began to talk of money, Ge- 
rard, calling to mind the vast disbursements 
of gold coin he had seen made by his father 
and the courier on their travels, began to fear 
that his little stock would ill suffice to carry 
him so far ; and the first suggestion of pru- 
dence the little fellow ever experienced made 
him now answer, ' Whichever costs least.' 

" < Outside then/ 



FALKNER. 43 

" ' Oh I have that — I can pay you.' 

"'Jump up then, my lad — lend me your 
hand — here, by me — that's right — all's well, 
you're just in the nick, we are off directly.' 

" He cracked his whip, and away they flew; 
and as they went, Gerard felt free, and going 
to his mother. 

" Such in these civilized times are the faci- 
lities offered to the execution of our wildest 
wishes ! the consequences, the moral con- 
sequences, are still the same, still require the 
same exertions to overcome them ; but we 
have no longer to fight with physical impedi- 
ments. If Gerard had begun his expedition 
from any other town, curiosity had perhaps 
been excited ; but in the vast, busy metropolis 
each one takes care of himself, and few scru- 
tinize the motives or means of others. Perched 
up on the coach-box, Gerard had a few ques- 
tions to answer — Was he going home ? did he 
live in Liverpool ? but the name of Dromore 
was a sufficing answer. The coachman had 



44 FALKNER. 

never heard of such a place ; but it was a 
gentleman's seat, and it was Gerard's home, 
and that was enough. 

" Some day you must ask Gerard to relate 
to you his adventures during this journey. 
They will come warmly and vividly from him ; 
while mine, as a mere reflex, must be tame. 
It is his mind I would describe ; and I will 
not pause to narrate the tantalizing cross ques- 
tioning that he underwent from a Scotchman 
— nor the heart-heavings with which he heard 
allusions made to the divorce case before the 
Lords. A newspaper describing his own con- 
duct was in the hands of one of the passengers ; 
he heard his mother lightly alluded to. He 
would have leaped from the coach ; but that 
was to give up all. He pressed his hands to 
his ears — he scowled on those around — his 
heart was on fire. Yet he had one consolation. 
He was free. He was going to her — he re- 
solved never to mingle with his fellow crea- 
tures more. Buried in some rural retreat 



FALKNER. 45 

with his mother, it mattered little what the 
vulgar and the indifferent said about either. 

" Some qualms did assail him. Should he 
find his dear mother? Where was she? his 
childish imagination refused to paint her 
distant from Dromore— his own removal from 
that mansion so soon after losing her, associated 
her indelibly with the mountains, the ravines, 
the brawling streams, and clustering woods of 
his natal county. She must be there. He 
would drive away the man of violence who 
took her from him, and they would be happy 
together. 

" A day and a night brought him to Liver- 
pool, and the coachman hearing whither he 
wished to go, deposited him in the stage for 
Lancaster on his arrival. He went inside this 
time, and slept all the way. At Lancaster he 
was recognized by several persons, and they 
wondered to see him alone. He was annoyed 
at their recognition and questionings; and 



46 FALKNER. 

though it was night when he arrived, in- 
stantly set off to walk to Dromore. 

" For two months from this time he lived 
wandering from cottage to cottage, seeking 
his mother. The journey from Lancaster to 
Dromore he performed as speedily as he well 
could. He did not enter the house — that 
would be delivering himself up as a prisoner. 
By night he clambered the park railings, and 
entered like a thief the demesnes where he had 
spent his childhood. Each path was known 
to him, and almost every tree. Here he sat 
with his mother; there they found the first 
violet of spring. His pilgrimage was achieved ; 
but where was she? His heart beat as he 
reached the little gate whence they had issued 
on that fatal night. All the grounds bore 
marks of neglect and the master's absence ; 
and the lock of this gate was spoiled ; a sort 
of rough bolt had been substituted. Gerard 
pushed it back. The rank grass had gathered 



FALKNER. 47 

thick on the threshold ; but it was the same 
spot. How well he remembered it ! 

"Two years only had since passed, he was 
still a child ; yet to his own fancy how much 
taller, how much more of a man he had 
become ! Besides, he now fancied himself 
master of his own actions — he had escaped 
from his father ; and he — who had threatened 
to turn him out of doors — would not seek to 
possess himself of him again. He belonged 
to no one — he was cared for by no one — 
by none but her whom he sought with firm, 
yet anxious expectation. There he had seen 
her last — he stepped forward ; he followed the 
course of the lane — he came to where the 
road crossed it — where the carriage drove 
up, where she had been torn from him. 

" It was day-break — a June morning; all 
was golden and still — a few birds twittered, 
but the breeze was hushed, and he looked out 
on the extent of country commanded from 
the spot where he stood, and saw only nature, 



48 FALKNER. 

the rugged hills, the green corn-fields, the 
flowery meads, and the umbrageous trees in 
deep repose. How different from the wild, 
tempestuous night, when she whom he sought 
was torn away ; he could then see only a few 
yards before him, now he could mark the 
devious windings of the road, and, afar 
off, distinguish the hazy line of the ocean. 
He sat down to reflect — what was he to do ? 
in what nook of the wide expanse was his 
mother hid ? that some portion of the land- 
scape he viewed, harboured her, was his fixed 
belief; a belief founded in inexperience and 
fancy, but not the less deep-rooted. He medi- 
tated for some time, and then walked forward 
— he remembered when he ran panting and 
screami^ along that road ; he was a mere 
child then, and what was he now 1 a boy of 
eleven, yet he looked back with disdain to 
the endeavours of two years before. 

" He walked along in the same direction 
that he had at that time pursued, and soon 



FALKNER. 49 

found that he reached the turnpike road to 
Lancaster. He turned off, and went by the 
cross road that leads to the wild and dreary 
plains that form the coast. The inner range 
of picturesque hills, on the declivity of which 
Dromore is situated, is not more than five 
miles from the sea ; but the shore itself is 
singularly blank and uninteresting, varied 
only by sandhills thrown up to the height of 
thirty or forty feet, intersected by rivers, which 
at low water are fordable even on foot ; but 
which, when the tide is up, are dangerous to 
those who do not know the right track, from 
the holes and ruts which render the bed of 
the river uneven. In winter, indeed, at the 
period of spring tides, or in stormy weather, 
with a west wind which drives the ocean 
towards the shore, the passage is often exceed- 
ingly dangerous, and, except under the direc- 
tion of an experienced guide, fatal accidents 
occur. 

' Gerard reached the borders of the ocean, 

VOL. II. D 



50 FALKNER. 

near one of these streams ; behind him rose 
his native mountains, range above range, 
divided by tremendous gulfs, varied by the 
shadows of the clouds, and the gleams of 
sunlight ; close to him was the waste sea 
shore ; the ebbing tide gave a dreary sluggish 
appearance to the ocean, and the river — a 
shallow, rapid stream — emptied its slender 
pittance of mountain water noiselessly into the 
lazy deep. It was a scene of singular deso- 
lation. On the other side of the river, not 
far from the mouth, was a rude hut, unroofed, 
and fallen to decay — erected, perhaps, as the 
abode of a guide ; near it grew a stunted tree, 
withered, moss-covered, spectre-like — the sand 
hills lay scattered around — the sea gull 
screamed above, and skimmed over the waste. 
Gerard sat down and wept — motherless — 
escaped from his angry father ; even to his 
young imagination, his fate seemed as drear 
and gloomy as the scene around. 



FALKNER. 51 



CHAPTER III. 



" I do not know why I have dwelt on these 
circumstances so long. Let me hasten to 
finish. For two months Gerard wandered in 
the neighbourhood of Dromore. If he saw a 
lone cottage, embowered in trees, hidden in 
some green recess of the hills, sequestered 
and peaceful, he thought, Perhaps my mother 
is there ! and he clambered towards it, finding 
it at last, probably, a mere shepherd's hut, 
poverty stricken, and tenanted by a noisy 
family. His money was exhausted — he made 
a journey to Lancaster to sell his watch, and 

d2 



52 FALKNER. 

then returned to Cumberland — his clothes, his 
shoes were worn out — often he slept in the 
open air — ewes' milk cheese and black bread 
were his fare — his hope was to find his mother 
— his fear, to fall again into his father's hands. 
But as the first sentiment failed, his friendless 
condition grew more sad ; he began to feel 
that he was indeed a feeble helpless boy — 
abandoned by all — he thought nothing was 
left for him, but to lie down and die. 

" Meanwhile he was noticed, and at last 
recognized, by some of the tenants ; and in- 
formation reached his father of where he was. 
Unfortunately the circumstance of his dis- 
appearance became public. It was put into 
the newspapers as a mysterious occurrence ; 
and the proud Sir Boyvill found himself not 
only pitied on account of his wife's conduct, 
but suspected of cruelty towards his only 
child. At first he was himself frightened and 
miserable ; but when he heard where Gerard 
was, and that he could be recovered at any time, 



FALKNER. 53 

these softer feelings were replaced by fury. 
He sent the tutor to possess himself of his 
son's person. He was seized with the help of 
a constable ; treated more like a criminal 
than an unfortunate erring child; carried back 
to Buckinghamshire ; shut up in a barricadoed 
room ; debarred from air and exercise ; lec- 
tured ; menaced ; treated with indignity. The 
boy, hitherto accustomed to more than usual 
indulgence and freedom, was at first aston- 
ished, and then wildly indignant at the treat- 
ment he suffered. He was told that he should 
not be set free till he submitted. He believed 
that to mean, until he should give testimony 
against his mother. He resolved rather to die. 
Several times he endeavoured to escape, and 
was brought back and treated with fresh bar- 
barity — his hands bound, and stripes inflicted 
by menials ; till driven to despair, he at one 
time determined to starve himself, and at 
another, tried to bribe a servant to bring him 
poison. The trusting piety inculcated by his 



54 FALKNER. 

gentle mother, was destroyed by the ill-judged 
cruelty of his father and his doltish substitute. 
It is painful to dwell on such circumstances ; 
to think of a sensitive, helpless child treated 
with the brutality exercised towards a galley- 
slave. Under this restraint, Gerard grew 
such as you saw him at Baden — sullen, fero- 
cious, plunged in melancholy, delivered up to 
despair. 

" It was some time before he discovered 
that the submission demanded of him was, not 
to run away again. On learning this, he wrote 
to his father. He spoke with horror of the 
personal indignities he had endured ; of his 
imprisonment ; of the conduct of Mr. Carter. 
He did not mean it as such ; but his letter 
grew into an affecting, irresistible appeal, that 
even moved Sir Boyvill. His stupid pride 
prevented him from showing the regret he 
felt. He still used the language of reproof 
and conditional pardon ; but the tutor wa6 
dismissed, and Gerard restored to liberty. 



FALKNER. 55 

Had his father been generous or just enough 
to show his regret, he might probably have 
obliterated the effects of his harshness ; as it 
was, Gerard gave no thanks for a boon 
which saved his life, but restored him to none 
of its social blessings. He was still friendless ; 
still orphaned in his affections ; still the me- 
mory of intolerable tyranny, the recurrence 
of which was threatened, if he made an ill use 
of the freedom accorded him, clung like the 
shirt of Nessus ; and his noble, ardent nature 
was lacerated by the intolerable recollection 
of slavish terrors. 

" You saw him at Baden; and it was at 
Baden that I also first knew him. You had 
left the baths when my mother and I arrived. 
We became acquainted with Sir Boyvill. He 
was still handsome ; he was rich ; and those 
qualities of mind which ill agreed with Ali- 
thea's finer nature, did not displease a fashion- 
able woman of the world. Such was my 
mother. Something that was called an at- 



56 FALKNER. 

tachment sprang up, and they married. She 
preferred the situation of wife to that of 
widow; and he, having been accustomed to 
the social comforts of a domestic circle, des- 
pite his disasters, disliked his bachelor state. 
They married; and I, just then eighteen — just 
out, as it is called — became the sister of my 
beloved Gerard. 

" 1 feel pride when I think of the services 
that I have rendered him. He had another 
fall from his horse not long after, or rather 
again urging the animal down a precipice, it 
fell. He was underneath, and his leg was 
broken. During the long confinement that 
ensued, I was his faithful nurse and compa- 
nion. Naturally lively, yet I could sympathise 
in his sorrows. By degrees I won his con- 
fidence. He told me all his story ; all his 
feelings. He grew mild and soft under my 
influence. He grew to regret that he had 
been vanquished by adversity, so as to become 
almost what he was accused of being, a frantic 



FALKNER. 57 

idiot. As he talked of his mother, and the 
care she bestowed on his early years, he wept 
to think how unlike he was to the creature 
she had wished him to become. A desire to 
reform, to repair past faults, to school him- 
self, grew out of such talk. He threw off his 
sullenness and gloom. He became studious 
at the same time that he grew gentle. His 
education, which had proceeded but badly, 
while he refused to lend his mind to improve- 
ment, was now the object of his own thoughts 
and exertions. Instead of careering wildly 
over the hills, or being thrown under some 
tree, delivered up to miserable reverie, he 
asked for masters, and was continually seen 
with a book in his hands. 

" The passion of his soul still subsisted, mo- 
dulated by his new feelings. He continued to 
believe in the innocence of his mother, though 
he often doubted her existence. He longed 
inexpressibly to unveil the mystery that 
shrouded her fate. He devoted himself in his 

d3 



58 FALKNER. 

heart to discovering the truth. He resolved 
to occupy his whole life in the dear task of 
reinstating her in that cloudless purity of 
reputation which he intimately felt she had 
never deserved to forfeit. He considered the 
promise exacted from him by his father as 
preventing him from following up his design, 
and as binding him till he was twenty-one. 
Till then he deferred his endeavours. No 
young spendthrift ever aspired for the attain- 
ment of the age of freedom, and the posses- 
sion of an estate, as vehemently as did Gerard 
for the hour which was to permit him to de- 
liver himself wholly up to this task. 

" Before that time arrived, I married. I 
wished to take him abroad with us ; but the 
unfounded (as I believe) notion, that the secret 
of his mother's fate is linked to the English 
shores, made him dislike to leave his native 
country. It was only on our return that he 
consented to come as far as Marseilles to 
meet us. 



FALKNER. 59 

" When he had reached the age of twenty- 
one, he announced to his father his resolve to 
discover his mother's fate. Sir Boyvill was 
highly indignant. The only circumstance that 
at all mitigated the disgrace of his wife's flight, 
was the oblivion into which she and all con- 
cerning her had sunk. To have new inquiries 
set on foot, and the forgotten shame recalled 
to the memories of men, appeared not less 
wicked than insane. He remonstrated, he 
grew angry, he stormed, he forbade ; but 
Gerard considered that time had set a limit 
to his authority, and only withdrew in silence, 
not the less determined to pursue his own 
course. 

" I need not say that he met with no success ; 
a mystery, so impenetrable at first, does not 
acquire clearness, after time has obscured the 
little ever known. Whatever were the real 
circumstances, and feelings, that occasioned 
her flight, however innocent she might then 
be, time has cemented his mother's union 



60 FALKNER. 

with another, and made her forget those she 
left behind. Or may I not say, what I am 
inclined to believe, that though the violence 
of another was the cause, at last, of guilt in 
her, yet she pined for those she deserted, that 
her heart was soon broken, that the sod has 
long since covered her form ; while the mise- 
rable man who caused all this evil, is but too 
eager to observe a silence, which prevents his 
name from being loaded with the execrations 
he deserves ? I cannot help, therefore, regret- 
ting that Gerard insists upon discovering the 
obscure grave of his miserable mother — while 
he, who, whether living or dead, believes her 
to have been always innocent, is to be dis- 
suaded by no arguments, still less by the angry 
denunciations of Sir Boyvill, whose conduct 
throughout he looks on as being the primal 
cause of his mother's misfortunes. 

" I have told you the tale, as nearly as I can, 
in the spirit in which Gerard himself would 
have communicated it — such was my tacit 



FALKNER. 61 

pledge to him — nor do I wish by my sus- 
picions, or conjectures, to deprive him of your 
sympathy, and the belief he wishes you to enter- 
tain of his mother's innocence ; but truth will 
force its way, and who can think her wholly 
guiltless ? would to God ! Oh, how often, and 
how fervently have I prayed that Gerard were 
cured of the madness which renders his life a 
wild, unprofitable dream ; and looking soberly 
on the past, consent to bury in oblivion mis- 
fortunes and errors which are beyond all cure, 
and which it is worse than vain to remember." 



62 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER IV. 



There was to Elizabeth a fascinating inte- 
rest in the story related by Lady Cecil. Eliza- 
beth had no wild fairy-like imagination. Her 
talents, which were remarkable, her serious, 
thoughtful mind, was warmed by the vital heat 
emanating from her affections — whatever re- 
garded these, moved her deeply. 

Here was a tale full of human interest, of 
love, error, of filial tenderness, and deep 
rooted, uneradicable fidelity. Elizabeth, who 
knew little of life, except through such ex- 
perience as she gathered from the emotions of 



FALKNER. 63; 

her own heart, and the struggling passions of 
Falkner, could not regard the story in the 
same worldly light as Lady Cecil . There was 
an unfathomable mystery ; but, was there guilt 
as far as regarded Mrs. Neville? Elizabeth 
could not believe it. She believed, that in a 
nature as finely formed as hers was described 
to have been, maternal love, and love for such 
a child as Gerard, must have risen paramount 
to every other feeling. Philosophers have 
said that the most exalted natures are en- 
dowed with the strongest and deepest-seated 
passions. It is by combating, and purifying 
them, that the human being rises into excel- 
lence ; and the combat is assisted by setting 
the good in opposition to the evil. Perhaps, 
Mrs. Neville had loved — though, even that 
seemed strange — but her devoted affection to 
her child must have been more powerful than 
a love, which, did it exist, appeared unaccom- 
panied by one sanctifying or extenuating cir- 
cumstance. 



64 FALKNER. 

Thus thought Elizabeth. Gerard appeared 
in a beautiful, and heroic light, bent on his 
holy mission of redeeming his mother's name 
from the stigma accumulated on it. Her heart 
warmed within her at the thought, that such 
a task assimilated to hers. She was endea- 
vouring to reconcile her benefactor to life, and 
to remove from his existence the stings of 
unavailing remorse. She tried to fancy that 
some secret tie existed between their two dis- 
tinct tasks ; and that a united happy end 
would spring up for both. 

After musing for some time in silence, at 
length she said, " But you do not tell me 
whither Mr. Neville is now gone, and what it 
is that has so newly awakened his hopes." 

" You remind me," replied Lady Cecil, " of 
what I had nearly forgotten. It is a provok- 
ing and painful circumstance ; the artifice of 
cupidity to dupe enthusiasm. You must 
know that Gerard, in furtherance of his wild 
project, has left an intimation among the 



FALKNER. 65 

cottages and villages near Dromore, and in 
Lancaster itself, that he will give two hundred 
pounds to any one who shall bring any in- 
formation that will conduce to the discovery 
of Mrs. Neville's fate. This is a large bribe 
to falsehood, and yet, until now, no one has 
pretended to have any thing to tell. But the 
other day he received a letter, and the person 
who wrote it was so earnest, that he sent a 
duplicate to Sir Boyvill. This letter stated 
that the writer, Gregory Hoskins, believed 
himself to be in possession of some facts con- 
nected with Mrs. Neville of Dromore, and on 
the two hundred pounds being properly secured 
to him by a written bond, he would commu- 
nicate them. This letter was dated Lancaster 
— thither Gerard is gone." 

" Does it speak of Mrs. Neville as still 
alive?" asked Elizabeth. 

" It says barely the words which I have 
repeated," Lady Cecil replied. " Sir Boyvill, 
knowing his son's impetuosity, hurried down 



66 FALKNER. 

here, to stop, if he could, his reviving, through 
such means, the recollection of his unfortunate 
lady, — with what success you have seen; 
Gerard is gone, nor can any one guess what 
tale will be trumped up to deceive and rob 
him." 

Elizabeth could not feel as secure as her 
friend, that nothing would come of the 
promised information. This was not strange ; 
besides the different view taken by a worldly 
and an inexperienced person, the tale, with 
all its mystery, was an old one to Lady Cecil ; 
while, to her friend, it bore the freshness of 
novelty : to the one, it was a story of the dead 
and the forgotten, to the other, it was replete 
with living interest ; the enthusiasm of Gerard 
communicated itself to her, and she felt that 
his present journey was full of event, the first 
step in a discovery of all that hitherto had 
been inscrutable. 

A few days brought a letter from Gerard. 
Lady Cecil read it, and then gave it to her 



FALKNER. 67 

young friend to peruse. It was dated Lan- 
caster ; it said, " My journey has hitherto 
been fruitless ; this man Hoskins has gone 
from Lancaster, leaving word that I should 
find him in London, but in so negligent a way 
as to lower my hopes considerably. His chief 
aim must be to earn the promised reward, and 
I feel sure that he would take more pains to 
obtain it, did he think that it was really within 
his grasp. 

" He arrived but a few weeks since, it 
seems, from America, whither he migrated, 
some twenty years ago, from Ravenglass. 
How can he bring news of her I seek from 
across the Atlantic ? The very idea fills me 
with disturbance. Has he seen her? Great 
God ! does she yet live ? Did she commis- 
sion him to make inquiries concerning her 
abandoned child ? No, Sophia, my life on it, 
it is not so ; she is dead ! My heart too truly 
reveals the sad truth to me. 

" Can I then wish to hear that she is no 



68 FALKNER. 

more? My dear, dear mother! Were all 
the accusations true which are brought against 
you, still would I seek your retreat, endeavour 
to assuage your sorrows ; wherever, whatever 
you are, you are of more worth to me — 
methinks that you must still be more worthy 
of affection, than all else that the earth 
contains ! But it is not so. I feel it — I know 
it — she is dead. Yet when, where, how? Oh, 
my father's vain commands ! I would walk 
barefoot to the summit of the Andes to have 
these questions answered. The interval that 
must elapse before I reach London, and see 
this man, is hard to bear. What will he tell? 
Nothing! often, in my lucid intervals, as my 
father would call them, in my hours of despon- 
dency, I fear — nothing! 

"You have not played me false, dearest 
Sophy? In telling your lovely friend the 
strange story of my woes, you have taught 
her to mourn my mother's fate, not to suspect 
her goodness? lam half angry with myself 



FALKNER. 69 

for devolving the task upon you. For, despite 
your kind endeavours, I read your heart, my 
worldly-wise sister, and know its unbelief. 
I forgive you, for you never saw my mother's 
face, nor heard her voice. Had you ever 
beheld the purity and integrity that sat upon 
her brow, and listened to her sweet tones, she 
would visit your dreams by day and night, as 
she does mine, in the guise of an angel robed 
in perfect innocence. I cannot forgive my 
father for his accusations; his own heart must 
be bad, or he could not credit that any evil 
inhabited hers. For how many years that 
guileless heart was laid bare to him ! and if it 
was not so fond and admiring towards himself 
as he could have wished, still there was no 
concealment, no tortuosity ; he saw it all, 
though now he discredits the evidence of his 
senses — shuts his eyes, 

" And hooting at the glorious sun in heaven, 
Cries out, 'Where is it?' 

For truth was her attribute ; the open heart, 



70 FALKNER. 

which made the brow, the eyes, the cheerful 
mien, the sweet, loving smile and thrilling 
voice, all transcripts of its pure emotions. It 
was this that rendered her the adorable being, 
which all who knew her acknowledge that 
she was. 

" I am solicitous beyond measure that Miss 
Falkner should receive no false impression. 
Her image is before me, when I saw her first, 
pale in the agony of fear, bending over her 
dying father ; by day and by night she forgot 
herself to attend on him. She, who loves a 
parent so well, can understand me better than 
any other. She, I am convinced, will form a 
true judgment. She will approve my perse- 
verance and share my doubts and fears ; will she 
not? ask her — or am I too vain, too credulous? 
Is there in the whole world one creature, 
who will join with me in my faith and my 
labours ? You do not, Sophia ; that I have 
long known, and the feeling of disappointment 
is already blunted ; but it will revive, it will 



FALKNER. 71 

be barbed with a new sting, if I am deceived 
in my belief that Elizabeth Falkner shares my 
convictions, and appreciates the utility, the 
necessity of my endeavours. I do not desire 
her pity, that you give me ; but at this 
moment I am blest by the hope that she feels 
with me. I cannot tell you the good that this 
idea does me. It spurs me to double energy 
in my pursuit, and it sustains me during the 
uncertainty that attends it ; it makes me 
inexpressibly more anxious to clear my 
mother's name in her eyes ; since she deigns 
to partake my griefs, I desire that she should 
hereafter share in the triumph of my success. 

" My success ! the word throws me ten 
thousand fathoms deep, from the thoughts of 
innocence and goodness, to those of wrongs, 
death, or living misery. Farewell, dearest 
Sophia. This letter is written at night ; 
to-morrow, early, I set out by a fast coach to 
London. I shall write again, or you will see 
me soon. Keep Miss Falkner with you till 



72 FALKNER. 

I return, and write me a few words of encou- 
ragement." 

Not a line in this letter but interested 
and gratified Elizabeth — and Lady Cecil saw 
the blush of pleasure mantle over her speak- 
ing countenance ; she was half glad — half 
sorry — she looked on Elizabeth as she who 
could cure Gerard of his Quixotic devotion, by 
inspiring him with feelings which, while they 
had all the enthusiasm natural to his disposi- 
tion, would detach him from his vain endea- 
vours, and centre his views and happiness in 
the living instead of the dead. Lady Cecil 
knew that Gerard already loved her friend — 
he had never loved before — and the tender- 
ness of his manner, and the admiration that 
lighted up his eyes whenever he looked on 
her, revealed the birth of passion. Elizabeth, 
less quick to feel, or at least more tranquil in 
the display of feeling, yet sympathised too 
warmly with him — felt too deeply interested 
in all he said and did, not to betray that she 



FALKNER. 73 

was touched by the divine fire that smooths 
the ruggedness of life, and fills with peace and 
smiles a darkling, stormy world. But instead 
of weaning Gerard from his madness, she en- 
couraged him in it — as she well knew ; for when 
she wrote to Gerard, she asked Elizabeth to 
add a few lines, and thus she wrote : 

" I thank you for the confidence you repose 
in me, and more than that, I must express how 
deeply I feel for you — the more that I think 
that justice and truth are on your side. Whe- 
ther you succeed or not, I confess that I think 
you are right in your endeavours — your aim 
is a noble and a sacred one — and like you, I 
cherish the hope that it will end in the excul- 
pation of one deeply injured — and your being 
rewarded for your fidelity to her memory. 
God bless you with all the happiness you 
deserve." 

No subsequent letter arrived from Gerard. 
Lady Cecil wondered and conjectured, and ex- 
pected impatiently. She and her friend could 

VOL. II. E 



74 FALKNER. 

talk of nothing else. The strange fact that a 
traveller from America proclaimed that he 
had tidings of the lost one, offered a fertile 
field for suppositions. Had Mrs. Neville been 
carried across the Atlantic 1 How impossible 
was this, against her own consent ! No pirate's 
bark was there, with a crew experienced in 
crime, ready to acquiesce in a deed of violence ; 
no fortalice existed, in whose impenetrable 
walls she could have been immured ; yet so 
much of strange and fearful must belong to 
her fate, which the imagination mourned to 
think of ! Love, though in these days it carries 
on its tragedies more covertly — and kills by 
the slow, untold pang — by the worm in the 
bosom — and exerts its influence rather by 
teaching deceit, than instigating to acts of vio- 
lence, yet love reigns in the hearts of men as 
tyrannically and fiercely — and causes as much 
evil, as much ruin and as many tears, as when, 
in the younger world, hecatombs were slain 
in his honour. In former days mortals wasted 



FALKNER. 75 

rather life than feeling, and every blow was a 
physical one ; now the heart dies, though the 
body lives — and a miserable existence is 
dragged out, after hope and joy have ceased 
to adorn it ; yet love is still, despite the school- 
master and the legislator, the prime law of 
human life, and Alithea Neville was well fitted 
to inspire an ardent passion. She had a sensi- 
bility which, while it gave strength to her af- 
fections, yet diffused a certain weakness over 
the mechanism of her being, that made those 
around her tremble ; she had genius which 
added lustre to her eye, and shed around her 
a fascination of manner, which no man could 
witness without desiring to dedicate himself to 
her service. She seemed the very object whom 
Sheridan addressed when he said — 

" For friends in every age you'll meet, 
And lovers in the young." 

That she should be loved to desperation could 
excite no wonder — but what had been the 

e 2 



76 FALKNER. 

effects of this love? a distant home across the 
ocean — a home of privation and sorrow — the 
yearning for her lost children — the slow break- 
ing of the contrite heart ; a life dragged on 
despite the pangs of memory — or a nameless 
grave. Such were the conjectures caused by 
the letter of the American. 

At length Neville returned. Each turned 
her eye on his face, to read the intelligence he 
had acquired in his speaking countenance. It 
was sad. " She lives and is lost," thought Lady 
Cecil ; " He mourns her dead !" was the sup- 
position of the single-minded Elizabeth. At 
first he avoided the subject of his inquiry, and 
his companions did not question him ; till at 
last he suddenly exclaimed, " Do you not wish 
to learn something, Sophia? — Have you for- 
gotten the object of my journey ?" 

" Dear Gerard, " replied Lady Cecil, "these 
walls and woods, had they a voice, could 
tell you that we have thought and spoken of 
nothing else." 



FALKNER. 77 

" She is dead !" he answered abruptly. 

A start — an exclamation was the reply. He 
continued : " If there be any truth in the tale 
I have heard, my dear injured mother is dead ; 
that is, if what I have heard concern her — mean 
any thing, or is not a mere fabrication. You 
shall hear all by and by ; I will relate all I 
have been told. It is a sad story if it be hers, 
if it be a true story at all." 

These disjointed expressions raised the cu- 
riosity and interest of his auditors to their 
height. It was evening ; instead of going on 
with his account, he passed into the adjoining 
room, opened the glass door, and stepped out 
into the open air. It was dark, scarcely could 
you see the dim outline of the woods— yet, far 
on the horizon where sky and sea met, there 
was a streak of light. Sophia and Elizabeth fol- 
lowed to the room whence he had gone, and 
drew their chairs near the open window and 
pressed each other's hands. 

"What can it all mean?" at length said 



78 FALKNER. 

Lady Cecil. " Hush !" whispered Elizabeth — 
"he is here, I saw him cross the streak of 
light." 

"True," said Gerard's voice — his person they 
could not distinguish, for they were in dark- 
ness ; "I am here, and I will tell you now all 
I have heard. I will sit at your feet : give me 
your hand, Sophy, that I may feel that you 
are really present — it is too dark to see any 
thing." , 

He did not ask for Elizabeth's hand, but he 
took it, and placing it on Lady Cecil's, gently 
clasped both : " I cannot see either of you — 
but indulge my wayward humour ; so much of 
coarse and commonplace has been thrown on 
the most sacred subject in the world — that I 
want to bathe my soul in darkness— a darkness 
as profound as that which wraps my mother's 
fate. Now for my story." 



FALKNER. 



CHAPTER V. 



u You know that I did not find this man, 
this Hoskins, at Lancaster. By his direction I 
sought him in London, and after some trouble 
found him. He was busy in his own affairs, 
and it was difficult to get at him ; but by per- 
severance, and asking him to dine with me at 
a coffeehouse, I at last succeeded. He is a 
native of Ravenglass, a miserable town on the 
sea-shore of Cumberland, with which I am 
well acquainted, for it is not far from Dro- 
more. He emigrated to America before I was 
born ; and after various speculations, is at last 



80 FALKNER. 

settled at Boston, in some sort of trade, the 
exigencies of which brought him over here, 
and he seized the opportunity to visit his 
family. There they were, still inhabiting the 
forlorn town of Ravenglass ; their cottage still 
looking out on a dreary extent of sand, mud, 
and marsh ; and the far mountains, which 
would seem to invite the miserable dwellers 
of the flats to shelter themselves in their green 
recesses, but they invite in vain. 

" Hoskins found his mother, a woman nearly 
a hundred years of age, alive ; and a widowed 
sister living with her, surrounded by a dozen 
children of all ages. He passed two days with 
them, and naturally recurred to the changes 
that had taken place in the neighbourhood. 
He had at one time had dealings with the 
steward of Dromore, and had seen my father. 
When he emigrated, Sir Boyvill had just 
married. Hoskins asked how it went on 
with him and his bride. It is our glorious fate 
to be in the mouths of the vulgar, so he heard 



FALKNER. 81 

the story of my mother's mysterious flight; 
and in addition to this he was told of my boyish 
wanderings, my search for my mother, and 
my declaration that I would give two hundred 
pounds to any one through whose means I 
should discover her fate. 

"The words fell at first upon a heedless 
ear, but the next morning it all at once struck 
him that he might gain the reward, and he 
wrote to me ; and as I was described as a 
wanderer without a home, he wrote also to my 
father. When I saw him in town, he seemed 
ashamed of the trouble I had taken. ' It is I 
who am to get the two hundred pounds, ' he 
said, ' not you; the chance was worth wasting 
a little breath ; but you may not think the 
little I have to tell worth your long journey.' 

" At length I brought him to the point. At 
one period, a good many years ago, he was a 
settler in New York, and by some chance lie 
fell in with a man lately arrived from England, 
who asked his advice as to obtaining employ- 

e3 



82 FALKNER. 

ment : he had some little money — some few 
hundred pounds, but he did not wish to sink 
it in trade or the purchase of land, but to get 
some situation with a tolerable salary, and 
keep his little capital at command. A strange 
way of using money and time in America ! but 
such was the fancy of the stranger ; he said he 
should not be easy unless he could draw out 
his money at any time, and emigrate at an 
hour's notice. This man's name was Osborne ; 
he was shrewd, ready-witted, and good-natured, 
but idle, and even unprincipled. ' He did me 
a good turn once,' said Hoskins, 'which makes 
me unwilling to do him a bad one ; but you 
cannot injure him, I think, in America. He 
has risen in the world since the time I mention, 
and has an employment under our minister at 
Mexico. After all he did not tell me much, 
and what I learnt came out in long talks by 
degrees, during a journey or two we took 
together to the west. He had been a traveller, 
a soldier in the East Indies, and unlucky every 



FALKNER'. 83 

where ; and it had gone hard with him at one 
time hi Bengal, but for the kindness of a. friend. 
He was a gentleman far above him in station, 
who got him out of trouble, and paid his passage 
to England ; and afterwards, when this gentle- 
man returned himself to the island, he found 
Osborne in trouble again, and again he assisted 
him. In short, sir, it came out, that if this 
gentleman (Osborne would never tell his 
name) stood his friend, it was not for nothing 
this time. There was a lady to be carried off 
Osborne swore he did not know who— he 
thought it a runaway match ; but it turned 
out something worse, for never did girl take 
on so for leaving her home with a lover. I 
tell the story badly, for I never got the rights 
of it. It ended tragically — the lady died- — 
was drowned, as well as I could make out, in 
some river. You know how dangerous the 
streams are on our coast. 

" ' It was the naming Cumberland and our 
estuaries that set me asking questions, which 



84 FALKNER. 

frightened Osborne. When he found that I 
was a native of that part of the world, he grew 
as mute as a fish, and never a word more of 
lady or friend did I get from him ; except, as 
I guessed, he was well rewarded, and sent over 
the water out of the way ; and he swore he 
believed that the gentleman was dead too. 
It was no murder — that he averred, but a sad 
tragic accident that might look like one ; and 
he grew as white as a sheet if ever I tried to 
bring him to speak of it again. It haunted 
his thoughts nevertheless : and he would talk 
in his sleep, and dream of being hanged — and 
mutter about a grave dug in the sands, and there 
being no parson ; and the dark breakers of the 
ocean — and horses scampering away, and the 
lady's wet hair — nothing regular, but such 
as often made me waken him ; for in wild 
nights, such mutterings were no lullaby. 

" ' Now, sir, whether the lady he spoke of 
were your lady mother, is more than I can 
say; but the time and place tally. It is 



FALKNER. 



85 



twelve years this summer since he came out ; 
and it had just happened, for his heart and 
head were full of horrors, and he feared every 
vessel from Europe brought out a warrant to 
arrest him, or the like. He was a chicken- 
hearted fellow ; and I have known him hide 
himself for a week when a packet came 
from Liverpool. But he got courage as 
time went on ; when I saw him last, he 
had forgotten all about it; and when I 
jeered him about his terrors, he laughed, and 
said all was well, and he should not care 
going to England ; for that the story was 
blown over, and neither he nor his friend 
even so much as suspected. 

" ' This, sir, is my story ; and I don't think 
he ever told me any more, or that I can re- 
member any thing else ; but such as I tell it, 
I can swear to it. There was a lady run off 
with, and she died, by fair means or foul, 
before she quitted the coast; and was buried, 



86 FALKNER. 

as we might bury in the far west, without 
bell or prayer-book. And Osborne does not 
know the name of the lady ; but the gentle- 
man he knew, though he has never since 
heard of him, and believes him to be dead. 
You best know whether my story is worth the 
two hundred pounds.' 

" Such, Sophia, is the tale I heard. Such 
is the coarse hand and vulgar tongue that 
first touches the veil that conceals my mother's 
fate." 

"It is a strange story," said Lady Cecil, 
shuddering. 

" But, on my life, a true one," cried Neville, 
" as I will prove. Osborne is now at Mexico. 
I have inquired at the American consul's. He 
is expected back to Washington at the end of 
this summer. In a few weeks, I shall embark 
and see this man, who now bears a creditable 
character, and learn if there is any foundation 
for Hoskins's conjectures. If there is, and 



FALKNER. 87 

can I doubt it ? if my mother died as he says, 
I shall learn the manner of her death, and who 
is the murderer." 

" Murderer!" echoed both his auditors. 

" Yes; I cannot retract the word. Mur- 
derer in effect, if not in deed. Remember, I 
witnessed the act of violence which tore my 
mother from me. He who carried her away 
is, in all justice, an assassin, even if his hands 
be not embued with blood. Blood! did I 
say. Nay, none was shed. I know the spot ; 
I have viewed the very scene. Our waste 
and desolate coast— -the perilous, deceitful 
rivers, in one of which she perished — the very 
night, so tempestuous — the wild west-wind 
bearing the tide with irresistible impetuosity 
up the estuaries — he seeking the solitary sands 
— perhaps some smuggling vessel lying in 
wait — to carry her off unseen, unheard. To 
me it is as if I knew each act of the tragedy, 
and heard her last sigh beneath the waves 
breathed for me. She was dragged out by 



88 FALKNER. 

these men ; buried without friend ; without 
decent rites ; her tomb the evil report her 
enemy raised above her ; her grave the sands 
of that dreary shore. Oh, what wild, what 
miserable thoughts are these ! This tale, in- 
stead of alleviating my anxious doubts, has 
taken the sleep out from my eyes. Images of 
death are for ever passing before me; I think 
of the murderer with a heart that pants for 
revenge, and of my beloved mother with such 
pity, such religious woe, that I would spend 
my life on that shore seeking her remains, so 
that at last I might shed my tears above them, 
and bear them to a more sacred spot. There 
is an easier way to gain both ends." 

"It is a sad, but a wild and uncertain 
story," remarked Lady Cecil, " and not suffi- 
ciently plain, I think, to take you away from 
us all across the Atlantic." 

" A far slighter clue would take me so far," 
replied Gerard, " as you well know. It is not 
for a traveller to Egypt to measure miles with 



FALKNER. 89 

such timidity. My dear Sophy, you would 
indeed think me mad if, after devoting my 
life to one pursuit, I were now to permit a 
voyage across the Atlantic to stand between 
me and the slightest chance of having my 
doubts cleared up. It is a voyage which 
thousands take every week for their interest 
or their pleasure. I do much, I think, in 
postponing my journey till this man returns 
to Washington. At first I had thought of 
taking my passage on the instant, and meeting 
him on his journey homeward from Mexico; 
but I might miss him. Yet I long to be on 
the spot, in America ; for, if any thing should 
happen to him ; if he should die, and his 
secret die with him, how for ever after I 
should be stung by self-reproach!" 

" But there seems to me so little founda- 
tion — " Lady Cecil began. Neville made an 
impatient gesture, exclaiming, " Are you not 
unreasonable, Sophy ? my father has made a 
complete convert of you." 



90 FALKNER. 

Elizabeth interposed, and asked, " You saw 
this man more than once ?" 

" Who? Hoskins? Yes, three times, and 
he always told the same story. He per- 
sisted in the main points. That the scene of 
the carrying off of the lady was his native 
shore, the coast of Cumberland ; that the act 
immediately preceded Osborne's arrival in 
America, twelve years ago : and that she died 
miserably, the victim of her wretched lover. 
He knew Osborne immediately on his coming 
to New York, when he was still suffering from 
the panic of such a tragedy, dreading the arrival 
of every vessel from England. At that time 
he concealed carefully from his new friend 
what he afterwards, in the overflow of his 
heart, communicated so freely ; and, in after- 
times, he reminded him how, when an emis- 
sary of the police came from London to seek 
after some fraudulent defaulter, he, only hear- 
ing vaguely that there was search made for a 
criminal, hid himself for several days. That 



FALKNERt 91 

Osborne was privy to, was participator in, a 
frightful tragedy, which, to my eyes, bears 
the aspect of murder, seems certain. I do 
not, I cannot doubt that my mother died then 
and there. How? the blood curdles to ask; 
but I would compass the earth to learn, to 
vindicate her name, to avenge her death. " 

Elizabeth felt Gerard's hand tremble and 
grow cold. He rose, and led the way into 
the drawing-room, while Lady Cecil whispered 
to her friend, " I am so very, very sorry! To 
go to America on such a story as this, a story 
which, if it bear any semblance to the truth, 
had better be for ever buried in oblivion. 
Dear Elizabeth, dissuade him, I entreat you." 

" Do you think Mr. Neville so easy of 
persuasion, or that he ought to be ? " replied 
her companion. " Certainly all that he has 
heard is vague, coming,, as it does, from a 
third, and an interested person. But his whole 
life has been devoted to the exculpation of his 
mother; and, if he believes that this tale affords 



92 FALKNER. 

a clue to lead to discovery, he is a son, and the 
nature that stirs within him may gift him with 
a clearer vision and a truer instinct than we can 
pretend to. Who can say but that a mysterious, 
yet powerful, hand is at last held out to guide 
him to the completion of his task? Oh, dear 
Lady Cecil, there are secrets in the moral, 
sentient world, of which we know nothing : 
such as brought Hamlet's father before his 
eyes ; such as now may be stirring in your 
brother's heart, revealing to him the truth, 
almost without his own knowledge." 

" You are as mad as he," said Lady Cecil, 
peevishly. " I thought you a calm and 
reasonable being, who would co-operate with 
me in weaning Gerard from his wild fancies, 
and in reconciling him to the world as it is ; 
but you indulge in metaphysical sallies and 
sublime flights, which my common-place mind 
can only regard as a sort of intellectual will- 
of-the-wisp. You betray, instead of assisting 
me. Peace be with Mrs. Neville, whether in 



FALKNER. 93 

ker grave, or, in some obscure retreat, she 
grieve over the follies of her youth. She has 
been mourned for, as never mother was 
mourned before; but be reasonable, dear 
Elizabeth, and aid me in putting a stop to 
Gerard's insane career. You can, if you will ; 
he reveres you — he would listen to you. Do 
not talk of mvsterious hands, and Hamlet's 
ghost, and all that is to carry us away to 
Fairyland ; but of the rational duties of life, 
and the proper aim of a man, to be useful to 
the living, and not spend the best years of his 
life in dreams of the dead." 

" What can I say?" replied Elizabeth: 
"you will be angry, but I sympathise with 
Mr. Neville; and I cannot help saying, though 
you scoff at me, that I think that, in all he is 
doing, he is obeying the most sacred law of 
our nature, exculpating the innocent, and 
rendering duty to her who has a right, living 
or dead, to demand all his love." 

" Well," said Lady Cecil, " I have managed 



94 FALKNER. 

very ill ; I had meant to make you my ally, 
and have failed. I do not oppose Gerard in 
Sir Boyvill's open angry manner, but it has 
been my endeavour throughout to mitigate his 
zeal, and to change him, from a wild sort of 
visionary, into a man of this world. He has 
talents, he is the heir to large possessions, his 
father would gladly assist any rational pursuit; 
he might make a figure in his country, he 
might be any thing he pleased ; and instead 
of this, all is wasted on the unhappy dead. 
You do wrong to encourage him ; think of 
what I say, and use your influence in a more 
beneficial manner." 

During the following days, this sort of 
argument was several times renewed. Lady 
Cecil, who had heretofore opposed Neville 
covertly, with some show of sympathy, the 
fallacy of which he easily detected, and who 
had striven rather to lead him to forget, than 
to argue against his views, now openly opposed 
his voyage to America. Gerard heard in 



FALKNER. 95 

silence. He would not reply. Nothing she 
said carried the slightest weight with him, 
and he had long been accustomed to oppo- 
sition, and to take his own way in spite of it. 
He was satisfied to do so now, without making 
an effort to convince her. Yet he was hurt, 
and turned gladly to Elizabeth for consolation. 
Her avowed and warm approval, her anxious 
sympathy, the certainty she expressed that in 
the end he would succeed, and that his enthu- 
siasm and zeal were implanted in his heart for 
the express purpose of his mother's vindi- 
cation, and that he would fail in every higher 
duty if he now held back ; all this echoed so 
faithfully his own thoughts, that she already 
appeared a portion of his existence that he 
could never part from, the dear and promised 
reward of all his exertions. 

In the ardour of her sympathy, Elizabeth 
wrote to Falkner. She had before written to 
tell him that she had seen again her friend of 
Marseilles ; she wrote trembling, fearful of 



96 FALKNER. 

being recalled home ; for she remembered the 
mysterious shrinking of her father from the 
name of Neville. His replies, however, only 
spoke of a short journey he was making, and 
a delay in his own joining her. Now again 
she wrote to speak of Neville's filial piety, his 
mother's death, her alleged dishonour, his 
sufferings and heroism ; she dilated on this 
subject with fond approval, and expressed her 
wishes for his success in warm and eager 
terms ; for many days she had no reply ; a 
letter came at last — it was short. It besought 
her instantly to return. " This is the last act 
of duty, of affection, I shall ever ask," Falkner 
wrote : " comply without demurring, come 
at once ; come, and hear the fatal secret that 
will divide us for ever. Come ! I ask but for 
a day ; the eternal future you may, you will, 
pass with your new friends." 

Had the writing not been firm and clear, 
such words had seemed to portend her bene- 
factor's death ; wondering, struck by fear, 



FALKNER. 97 

inexpressibly anxious to comply with his 
wishes, pale and trembling, she besought Lady 
Cecil to arrange for her instant return. 
Gerard heard with sorrow, but without sur- 
prise ; he knew, if her father demanded her 
presence, her first act would be obedience. 
But he grieved to see her suffer, and he began 
also to wonder by what strange coincidence 
they should both be doomed to sorrow, through 
the disasters of their parents. 



VOL. ii. j? 



98 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER VI 



Falkner had parted with his dear adopted 
child, under a strong excitement of fear con- 
cerning her health. The change of air and 
scene restored her so speedily, that his anxie- 
ties were of short duration. He was, however, 
in no hurry to rejoin her, as he was taught to 
consider a temporary separation from him as 
important to her convalescence. 

For the first time, after many years, Falk- 
ner was alone. True, he was so in Greece; 
but there, he had an object. In Greece also, 
it is true that he had dwelt on the past, writing 



FALKNER. 99 

even a narrative of his actions, and that re- 
morse sat heavy at his heart, while he pur- 
sued this task. Yet he went to Greece to 
assist in a glorious cause, and to redeem his 
name from the obloquy his confession would 
throw on it, by his gallantry and death. There 
was something animating in these reflections. 
Then also disease had not attacked him, nor 
pain made him its prey — his sensations were 
healthful — and if his reflections were melan- 
choly and self-condemning, yet they were 
attended by grandeur, and even by sublimity, 
the result of the danger that surrounded him, 
and the courage with which he met it. 

Now he was left alone— broken in health — 
dashed in spirit ; consenting to live — wishing 
to live for Elizabeth's sake — yet haunted still 
by one pale ghost, and the knowledge that 
his bosom contained a secret which, if di- 
vulged, would acquire for him universal detes- 
tation. He did not fear discovery ; but little 
do they know the human heart, who are not 

f2 



100 FALKNER. 

aware of the throes of shame and anguish that 
attend the knowledge that we are in reality 
a cheat, that we disguise our own real selves, 
and that truth is our worst enemy. Left to 
himself, Falkner thought of these things with 
bitterness, he loathed the burthen that sat 
upon his soul, he longed to cast it off; yet, 
when he thought of Elizabeth, her devoted 
affection, and earnest entreaties, he was again 
a coward ; how could he consent to give her 
up, and plant a dagger in her heart ! 

There was but one cure to the irritation 
that his spirit endured, which was — to take 
refuge in her society ; and he was about to 
join her, when a letter came, speaking of 
Gerard Neville — the same wild boy they had 
seen at Baden — the kind friend of Marseilles, 
still melancholy, still stricken by adversity ; 
but endowed with a thousand qualities to at- 
tract love and admiration ; full of sentiment, 
and poetry — kind and tender as woman — 
resolute and independent as a man. — Elizabeth 



FALKNER. 101 

said little, remembering Falkner's previous 
restriction upon his name — but she considered 
it her duty to mention him to her benefactor ; 
and that being her duty to him, it became 
another to her new friend, to assert his excel- 
lence, lest by some chance Falkner had mis- 
taken, and attributed qualities that did not 
belong to him. 

Falkner's thoughts became busy on this 
with new ideas. It was at once pleasing, and 
painful, to hear of the virtues of Gerard 
Neville. The pleasure was derived from the 
better portion of human nature— the pain 
from the worst ; a lurking envy, and dislike 
to excellence derived in any degree from one 
he hated, and with such sentiment he regarded 
the father of Gerard. Still he was the son 
of the angel he worshipped, and had destroyed; 
she had loved her child to adoration, and to 
know that he grew up all she would have 
wished, would console her wandering, unap- 
peased spirit. He remembered his likeness to 



102 FALKNER. 

her, and that softened him even more. Yet 
he thought of the past — and what he had done ; 
and the very idea of her son lamenting for 
ever his lost mother, filled him with renewed 
and racking remorse. 

That Elizabeth should now for the third 
time be thrown in his way, was strange, and 
his first impulse was to recall her. It was well 
that Gerard should be noble-minded, endowed 
with talent, a rare and exalted being — but that 
she should be brought into near contact with 
him, was evil : between Falkner and Gerard 
Neville, there existed a gulf unfathomable, 
horrific, deadly ; and any friendship between 
him and his adopted child, must cause dis- 
union between her and Falkner. He had suf- 
fered much, but this last blow, a cause for 
disuniting them, would tax his fortitude too 
much. 

Yet thus it was to be taxed. He received 
a letter from Lady Cecil, of which Elizabeth 
was ignorant. Its ostensible object was to 



FALKNER. 103 

give good tidings of her fair guest's health, 
and to renew her invitation to him. But there 
was a covert meaning which Falkner detected. 
Lady Cecil, though too young to be an in- 
veterate match-maker, yet conceived and 
cherished the idea of the marriage of Neville 
and Elizabeth. In common parlance, Gerard 
might look higher ; but so also might Eliza- 
beth, apparently the only daughter and heiress 
of a man of good birth, and easy fortune. 
But this went for little with Lady Cecil ;. — 
Gerard's peculiar disposition — his devotion to 
his dead mother, his distaste to all society — 
the coldness he had hitherto manifested to 
feminine attractions, made the choice of a wife 
difficult for him. Elizabeth's heroic, and con- 
genial character ; her total inexperience in the 
world, and readiness to sympathize with sen- 
timents which, to the ordinary class of women, 
would appear extravagant and foolish ; all this 
suited them for each other. Lady Cecil saw 
them together, and felt that intimacy would 



104 FALKNER. 

produce love. She was delighted ; but think- 
ing it right that the father should have a voice, 
she wrote to Falkner, scarcely alluding to 
these things, but with a delicate tact that en- 
abled her to convey her meaning, and Falkner 
jumping at once to the conclusion, saw that 
his child was lost to him for ever. 

There arose from this idea a convulsion of 
feeling, that shook him as an earthquake 
shakes the firm laud, making the most stable 
edifices totter. A chill horror ran through 
his veins, a cold dew broke out on his fore- 
head ; it was unnatural — it was fatal, it must 
bring on all their heads tenfold ruin. 

Yet wherefore? Elizabeth was no child of 
his — Elizabeth Falkner could never wed Gerard 
Neville — but between him and Elizabeth Raby 
there existed no obstacle. Nay, how better 
could he repay the injury he had done him 
in depriving him of his mother, than by be- 
stowing on him a creature, perhaps more per- 
fect, to be his solace and delight to the end of 



FALKNER, 105 

his life ? So must it be — here Falkner's punish- 
ment would begin ; to exile himself for ever 
from her, who was the child of his heart, the 
prop of his existence. It was dreadful to 
think of, but it must be done. 

And how was the sacrifice to be fulfilled ? 
by restoring Elizabeth to her father's family, 
and then withdrawing himself to a distant 
land. He need not add to this the confession 
of his crime. No! thus should he compensate 
to Gerard for the injury done him ; and burn- 
ing his papers, leaving still in mystery the 
unknown past, die, without it ever being 
known to Elizabeth, that he was the cause 
of her husband's sorrows. It was travelling 
fast, to arrange this future for all three ; but 
there are moments when the future, with all 
its contingencies and possibilities, becomes 
glaringly distinct to our foreseeing eye ; and 
we act as if that was, which we believe must 
be. He would become a soldier once again— 

f3 



106 FALKNERc 

and the boon of death would not be for ever 
denied to him. 

To restore Elizabeth to her family was at 
any rate but doing her a long-withheld justice. 
The child of honour and faithful affection — 
who bore a proud name — whose loveliness of 
person and mind would make her a welcome 
treasure in any family ; she, despite her ge- 
nerous sacrifices, should follow his broken 
fortunes no longer. If the notion of her 
marrying Neville were a mere dream, still to 
give back to her name and station, was a 
benefit which it was unjust any longer to 
withhold ; nor should it be a question between 
them. They were now divided, so should they 
remain. He would reveal her existence to 
her family, claim their protection, and then 
withdraw himself; while she, occupied by a 
new and engrossing sentiment, would easily 
get reconciled to his absence. 

The first step he took in furtherance of this 



FALKNER, 107 

new resolution, was to make inquiries concern- 
ing the present state of Elizabeth's family — of 
which hitherto he knew no more than what he 
gathered from her mother's unfinished letter, 
and this was limited to their being a wealthy 
Catholic family, proud of their ancestry, and 
devoted to their faith. Through his solicitor 
he gained intelligence of their exact situation. 
He heard that there was a family of that name 
in Northumberland ; it was Roman Catholic, 
and exceedingly rich. The present head of 
the family was an old man ; he had long been 
a widower ; left with a family of six sons. 
The eldest had married early, and was dead, 
leaving his widow with four daughters and 
one son, yet a child, who was the heir of the 
family honours and estates, and resided with 
his mother, for the most part, at the mansion of 
his grandfather. Of the remaining sons little 
account could be gained. It was the family 
custom to concentrate all its prosperity and 
wealth on the head of the eldest son ; and the 



108 FALKNER. 

younger, precluded by their religion, at that 
time, from advancement in their own country, 
entered foreign service. One only had ex- 
empted himself from the common lot, 1 and 
become an outcast, and, in the eyes of his 
family, a reprobate. Edwin Raby had apos- 
tatized from the Catholic faith; he had 
married a portionless girl of inferior birth, 
and entered the profession of the law. His 
parents looked with indignation on the dis- 
honour entailed on their name through his 
falling off; but his death relieved their ter- 
rors — he died, leaving a widow and an infant 
daughter. As the marriage had never been 
acknowledged, and female offspring were held 
supernumerary, and an incumbrance in the 
Raby family, they had refused to receive her, 
and never heard of her more ; she was, it was 
conjectured, living in obscurity among her 
own relations. Falkner at once detected the 
truth. The despised, deserted widow had 
died in her youth ; and the daughter of Edwin 



FALKNER. 



109 



Raby was the child of his adoption. On this 
information Falkner regulated his conduct ; 
and finding that Elizabeth's grandfather, old 
Oswi Raby, resided habitually at his seat in 
the north of England, he — his health now 
restored sufficiently to make the journey 
without inconvenience — set out for North- 
umberland, to communicate the existence, 
and claim his acknowledgment, of his grand- 
daughter. 

There are periods in our lives when we seem 
to run away from ourselves and our afflictions; 
to commence a new course of existence, upon 
fresh ground, towards a happier goal. Some- 
times, on the contrary, the stream of life 
doubles — runs back to old scenes, and 
we are constrained to linger amidst the de- 
solation we had hoped to leave far behind. 
Thus was it with Falkner ; the past clung to 
him inextricably. What had he to do with 
those who had suffered through his misdeed ? 
He had fled from them: — he had traversed a 



110 FALKNER. 

quarter of the earth — he had placed a series of 
years between them ; but there he was again 
— in the same spot — the same forms before 
him — the same names sounding in his ears — 
the effects of his actions impending darkly 
and portentously over him ; seeing no escape 
but by casting away the only treasure of his 
life — his adopted child — and becoming again 
a solitary, miserable wanderer. 

No man ever suffered more keenly than 
Falkner the stings of remorse ; no man ever 
resolved more firmly to meet the consequences 
of his actions systematically, and without out- 
ward flinching. It was perseverance to one 
goal that had occasioned all his sin and woe ; 
it followed him in his repentance ; and though 
misery set a visible mark on his brow, he did 
not hesitate nor delay. The journey to Nor- 
thumberland was long, for he could only 
proceed by short stages ; and all the time 
miserable reflection doubled every mile, and 
stretched each hour into twice its duration. He 



FALKNER. HI 

was alone. To look back was wretchedness — to 
think of Elizabeth was no solace ; hereafter 
they were to be divided — hereafter no voice 
of love or gentle caress would chase the 
darkness from his brow — he was to be for 
ever alone. 

At length he arrived at his destination, and 
reached the entrance to Belleforest. The man- 
sion, a fine old Gothic building, adorned by 
the ruins of an ancient abbey, was in itself 
venerable and extensive, and surrounded by 
a princely demesne. This was the residence 
of Elizabeth's ancestors — of her nearest rela- 
tions. Here her childhood would have been 
spent — under these venerable oaks — within 
these ancestral walls. Falkner was glad to 
think, that, in being forced to withdraw from 
her his own protection, she would take a 
higher station, and in the world's eye become 
more on an equality with Gerard Neville. 
Every thing around denoted grandeur and 
wealth ; the very circumstance that the family 



1 12 FALKNER. 

adhered to the ancient faith of the land — to a 
form of worship, which, though evil in its 
effects on the human mind, is to the eye im- 
posing and magnificent, shed a greater lustre 
round the place. On inquiry, Falkner heard 
that the old gentleman was at Belleforest; 
indeed he never quitted it ; but that his 
daughter-in-law, with her family, were in the 
south of England. Mr. Raby was very ac- 
cessible ; on asking for him, Falkner was in- 
stantly ushered in, 

He entered a library of vast dimensions, 
and fitted up with a sort of heavy splendour ; 
very imposing, but very sombre. The high 
windows, painted ceiling, and massy furniture, 
bespoke an old-fashioned, but almost regal 
taste. Falkner, for a moment, thought him- 
self alone, when a slight noise attracted his 
attention to a diminutive, and very white old 
gentleman, who advanced towards him. The 
mansion looked built for a giant race ; and 
Falkner, expecting the majesty of size, could 



FALKNER. 113 

hardly contract his view to the slender and 
insignificant figure of the present possessor. 
Oswi Raby looked shrivelled, not so much by 
age as the narrowness of his mind ; to whose 
dimensions his outward figure had contracted 
itself. His face was pale and thin ; his light 
blue eyes grown dim ; you might have thought 
that he was drying up and vanishing from the 
earth by degrees. Contrasted with this slight 
shadow of a man, was a mind that saw the 
whole world almost concentrated in himself. 
He, Oswi Raby, he, head of the oldest family 
in England, was first of created beings. With^ 
out being assuming in manner, he was self- 
important in heart ; and there was an obsti* 
nacy, and an incapacity to understand that any 
thing was of consequence except himself, or 
rather, except the house he represented, that 
gave extreme repulsion to his manners- 
It is always awkward to disclose an 
errand such as Falkner's ; it was only by 
plunging at once into it, and warming him- 



114 FALKNER. 

self by his own words, that he contrived to 
throw grace round his subject. A cloud 
gathered over the old man's features; he grew 
whiter, and his thin lips closed as if they had 
never opened except with a refusal. 

" You speak of very painful circumstances," 
he said ; "I have sometimes feared that I 
should be intruded upon in behalf of this 
person; yet, after so many years, there is 
less pretence tjian ever for encroaching upon 
an injured family. Edwin himself broke the 
tie. He was rebellious and apostate. He had 
talents, and might have distinguished himself 
to his honour ; he preferred irreparable dis- 
grace. He abandoned the religion which we 
consider as the most precious part of our in- 
heritance; and he added imprudence to guilt, 
by, he being himself unprovided for, marry- 
ing a portionless, low-born girl. He never 
hoped for my forgiveness ; he never even 
asked it. His death — it is hard for a father 
to feel thus — but his death was a relief. We 



FALKNER. 115 

were applied to by his widow ; but with her we 
could have nothing to do. She was the partner 
of his rebellion — nay, we looked upon her 
as its primal cause. I was willing to take 
charge of my grandchild, if delivered entirely 
up to me. She did not even think proper to 
reply to the letter making this concession. 
I had, indeed, come to the determination of 
continuing to her a portion of the allowance 
1 made to my son, despite his disobedience ; 
but from that time to this no tidings of either 
mother or daughter have reached us." 

" Death must bear the blame of that negli- 
gence/' said Falkner, mastering his rising 
disgust. " Mrs. Raby was hurried to the 
grave but a few months after your son's death, 
the victim of her devoted affection to her 
husband. Their innocent daughter was left 
among strangers, who did not know to whom 
to apply. She, at least, is free from all fault, 
and has every claim on her father's family." 

" She is nothing, and has no claim," inter- 



116 FALKNER. 

rupted Mr. Raby, peevishly, " beyond a bare 
maintenance, even if she be the person you 
represent. I beg your pardon, sir, but you 
may be deceived yourself on this subject ; 
but taking it for granted that this young 
person is the daughter of my son, what is she 
to me?" 

M A grand-daughter is a relation," Falkner 
began ; " a near and dear one — " 

" Under such circumstances," interrupted 
Mr. Raby ; " under the circumstances of a 
marriage to which I gave no consent, and her 
being brought up at a distance from us all, 
I should rather call her a connexion than a 
relation. We cannot look with favour on the 
child of an apostate ; educated in a faith 
which we consider pernicious. I am an old- 
fashioned man, accustomed only to the society 
of those whose feelings coincide with mine ; 
and I must apologize, sir, if I say any thing 
to shock you ; but the truth is self-evident, 
a child of a discarded son may have a slender 



FALKNER. 117 

claim for support, none for favour or counte- 
nance. This young person has no right to 
raise her eyes to us ; she must regulate her 
expectations by the condition of her mother, 
who was a sort of servant, a humble compa- 
nion or governess, in the house of Mrs. Neville 
of Dromore — " 

Falkner grew pale at the name, but, com- 
manding himself, replied, " I believe she was 
a friend of that lady ! I have said I was un- 
acquainted with the parents of Miss Raby ; 
I found her an orphan, subsisting on preca- 
rious charity. Her few years — her forlorn 
situation — her beauty and sweetness, claimed 
my compassion — I adopted her — " 

" And would now throw her off," again 
interrupted the ill-tempered old man. " Had 
you restored her to us in her childhood — bad 
she been brought up in our religion among 
us — she would have shared this home with 
her cousins. As it is, you must yourself be 
aware, that it will be impossible to admit, as 



118 FALKNER. 

an inmate, a stranger — a person ignorant of 
our peculiar systems — an alien from our reli- 
gion. Mrs. Raby would never consent to it; 
and I would on no account annoy her who, as 
the mother and guardian of my heir, merits 
every deference. I will, however, consult 
with her, and with the gentleman who has 
the conduct of my affairs ; and as you wish to 
get rid of an embarrassment, which, pardon 
me if I say you entirely brought on yourself, 
we will do what we judge due to the honour 
of the family ; but I cannot hold out any 
hopes beyond a maintenance — unless this 
young person, whom I should then regard as 
my grand* daughter, felt a vocation for a reli- 
gion, out of whose pale I will never acknow- 
ledge a relation." 

At every word Falkner grew more angry. 
He always repressed any manifestation of 
passion, and only grew pale, and spoke in a 
lower, calmer voice. There was a pause; he 
glanced at the white hair, and attenuated form 



FALKNER. 119 

of the old man, so to acquire a sufficient 
portion of forbearance ; and then replied : 
44 It is enough — forget this visit ; you shall 
never hear again of the existence of your 
outraged grandchild. Could you for a moment 
comprehend her worth, you might feel regret 
at casting from you one whose qualities 
render her fhe admiration of all who know 
her. Some day, when the infirmities of age 
increase upon you, you may remember that 
you might have had a being near, the most 
compassionate and kind that breathes. If 
ever you feel the want of an affectionate 
hand to smooth your pillow, you may 
remember that you have shut your heart to 
one who would have been a daily blessing. I 
do not wish to disembarrass myself of Miss 
Raby — Miss Falkner, rather, let me call her ; 
she has borne my name as my daughter for 
many years, and shall continue to retain it, 
together with my paternal guardianship, 



120 FALKNER. 

while I live. I have the honour to wish you 
a good morning." 

Falkner hastily departed ; and, as he threw 
himself on his horse, and at a quick pace 
traversed the long avenues of Belleforest, he 
felt that boiling of the blood, that inexpress- 
ible bursting and tumult of the heart, that 
accompanies fierce indignation and disdain. 
A vehement desire to pour out the cataract 
of his contempt and anger on the offender, 
was mingled with redoubled tenderness for 
Elizabeth, with renewed gratitude for all he 
owed her, and a yearning, heart-warming 
desire to take her again to the shelter of his 
love, from whence she should never more 
depart. 



FALKNER. 



121 



CHAPTER VII 



Falkner's mind had undergone a total 
change ; he had gone to Belleforest, believing 
it to be his duty to restore to its possessors a 
dearer treasure than any held by them ; he 
left it, resolved never to part from his adopted 
child. " Get rid of an embarrassment ! " he 
repeated to himself; " get rid of Elizabeth, 
of tender affection, truth and fidelity ! of the 
heart's fondest ties, my soul's only solace ! 
How often has my life been saved, and 
cheered by her only! And when I would 
sacrifice blessings of which I hold myself 

VOL. II. G 



122 FALKNER. 

unworthy, I hear the noblest and most 
generous being in the world degraded by the 
vulgar, sordid prejudices of that narrow- 
minded bigot ! How paltry seems the pomp 
of wealth, or the majesty of these ancient 
woods, when it is recollected that they are 
lorded over by such a thing as that ! " 

Falkner's reflections were all painful ; his i 
heavily-burthened conscience weighed him to 
the earth. He felt that there was justice in 
a, part of Mr. Raby's representations ; that if 
Elizabeth had been brought up under his care, 
in a religion which, because it was persecuted, 
was the more valuable in their eyes ; partici- 
pating in their prejudices, and endeared to 
them by habit, she would have had claims, 
which, as she was, unseen, unknown, and 
totally disjoined from them in opinions and 
feelings, she could never possess. He was the 
cause of this, having, in her infancy, chosen 
to take her to himself, to link his desolate 
fate to her brighter one ; and now, he could 



PALKNER. 123 

only repent for her sake ; yet, for her sake, he 
did repent, when, looking forward, he thought 
of the growing attachment between her and 
the son of his victim. 

What could he do? recall her? forbid her 
again to see Gerard Neville? Unexplained 
commands are ever unjust, and had any strong 
feeling sprung up in either of their hearts, 
they could not be obeyed. Should he tell her 
all, and throw himself on her mercy? He 
would thus inflict deep, irreparable pangs, 
and, besides, place her in a painful situation, 
where duty would struggle with inclination; 
and pride and affection both made it detestable 
to him to create such a combat in her heart, 
and cause her to feel pangs and make sacrifices 
for him. What other part was there to take ? 
to remain neuter ? let events take their course? 
If it ended as he foresaw, when a marriage 
was mentioned, he could reveal her real birth. 
Married to Gerard Neville, her relations 
would gladly acknowledge her, and then he 

g 2 



124 FALKNER. 

could withdraw for ever. He should have 
much to endure meanwhile ; to hear a name 
perpetually repeated that thrilled to the very 
marrow of his bones ; perhaps, to see the 
husband and son of her he had destroyed : he 
felt sick at heart at such a thought ; he put it 
aside. It was not to-day, it could not be 
to-morrow, that he should be called upon to 
encounter these evils ; meanwhile, he would 
shut his eyes upon them. 

Returning homeward, he felt impelled to 
prolong his tour ; he visited some of the lakes 
of Westmoreland, and the mountain scenery of 
Derbyshire. The thought of return was pain- 
ful, so he lingered on the way, and wrote for his 
letters to be forwarded to him. He had been 
some weeks without receiving any from Eliza- 
beth, and he felt extreme impatience again to 
be blest with the sight of her handwriting — 
he felt how passionately he loved her — how 
to part from her was to part from every joy of 
life ; he called himself her father — his heart 



FALKNER. 125 

acknowledged the tie in every pulsation ; no 
father ever worshipped a child so fervently ; 
her voice, her smile — and dear loving eyes, 
where were they ? — they were far, but here was 
something — a little packet of letters, that must 
for the present stand in lieu of the dearer bless- 
ing of her presence. He looked at the papers 
with delight — he pressed them to his lips— he 
delayed to open them, as if he did not deserve 
the joy they would communicate — as if its ex- 
cess would overpower him. " I purpose part- 
ing from her" — he thought — " but still she is 
mine, mine when she traced those lines — mine 
as I read the expressions of her affection ; 
there are hours of delight garnered for me in 
those little sealed talismans that nothing fu- 
ture or past can tarnish, and yet the name of 
Neville will be there !" The thought brought 
a cold chill with it, and he opened the letters 
hastily to know the worst. 

Elizabeth had half forgotten the pain with 
which Falkner had at one time shrunk from 



126 FALKNER. 

a name become so dear to her ; when she wrote, 
her heart was full of Gerard's story — and be- 
sides she had had letters from her father 
speaking of him with kindness, so that she 
indulged herself by alluding to it — to the dis- 
appearance of his mother and Gerard's misery ; 
the trial — the brutality ofSirBoyvill ; and last, 
to the resolution formed in childhood, brooded 
over through youth, now acted upon, to dis- 
cover his mother's destroyer. " Nor is it," she 
wrote, " any vulgar feeling of vengeance that 
influences him — but the purest and noblest 
motives. She is stigmatized as unworthy — he 
would vindicate her fame. When I hear the 
surmises, the accusations cast on her, I feel 
with him. To hear a beloved parent accused 
of guilt, must indeed be the most bitter woe ; 
to believe her innocent, and to prove her such, 
the only alleviation. God grant that he may 
succeed ! — and though I wish no ill to any 
human being, yet rather may the height of 
evil fall on the head of the true criminal, than 



FALKNER. 127 

continue to cloud the days of a being whose 
soul is moulded in sensibility and honour !" 

" Thus do you pray, heedless Elizabeth ! 
May the true criminal feel the height of evil ; 
may he — whom you have saved from death- — 
endure tortures compared to which a thousand 
deaths were nothing ! Be it so ! you shall have 
your wish |J.' 

Impetuous as fire, Falkner did not pause ; 
something, some emotion devouring as fire, 
was lighted up in his heart — there must be no 
delay ! — never had he seen the effects of his 
crime in so vivid a light ; avoiding the name 
of Neville, he had never heard that of his 
victim coupled with shame — she was unfortu- 
nate, but he persuaded himself that she was 
not thought guilty ; dear injured saint ! had 
then her sacred name been bandied about by 
the vulgar, she pronounced unworthy by the 
judges of her acts ; ignominy heaped upon 
the grave he had dug for her? Was her be- 
loved son the victim of his belief in her good- 



128 FALKNER. 

ness ? Had his youthful life been blighted by 
his cowardly concealments ? Oh, rather a thou- 
sand deaths than such a weight of sin upon 
his soul ! — He would declare all ; offer his life 
in expiation — what more could be demanded ! 

And again — this might be thought a more 
sordid motive ; and yet it was not — Gerard 
was vowed to the discovery of the true cri- 
minal ; he would discover him — earth would 
render up her secrets, Heaven lead the son to 
the very point — by slow degrees his crime 
would be unveiled — Elizabeth called upon to 
doubt and to believe. His vehement disposition 
was not calculated to bear the slow process of 
such discoveries ; he would meet them, avow 
all — let the worst fall on him : it was happiness 
to know and feel the worst. 

Lost for ever, he would deliver himself up 
to reprobation and the punishment of his guilt. 
Too long he had delayed — now all his motives 
for concealment melted away like snow over- 
spread by volcanic fire. Fierce, hurrying des- 



FALKNER. 159 

tiny seized him by the hair of his head — 
crying aloud, Murderer, offer up thy blood- 
shade of Alithea, take thy victim ! 

He wrote instantly to Elizabeth to meet him 
at their home at Wimbledon, and proceeded 
thither himself. Unfortunately the tumult' of 
his thoughts acted on his health; after he had 
proceeded a few miles, he was taken ill — for 
three days he was confined to his bed, in a 
high fever. He thought he was about to die— 
his secret untold. Copious bleeding, however, 
subdued the violence of the attack — and weak 
and faint, he, despite his physician's advice, 
proceeded homewards ; weak and faint, an 
altered man — life had no charms, no calls, but 
one duty. Hitherto he had lived in contempt 
of the chain of effects, which ever links pain 
to evil ; and of the Providence, which will not 
let the innocent be for ever traduced. It had 
fallen on him ; now his punishment had begun, 
not as he, in the happier vehemence of passion, 
had determined, not by sudden — self-inflicted, 

g 3 



130 FALKNER. 

or glorious death — but the slow grinding 
of the iron wheels of destiny, as they passed 
over him, crushing him in the dust. 

Yet his heart, despite its sufferings, warmed 
with something like pleasure when, after a 
tedious journey of three days, he drew near 
his home where he hoped to find Elizabeth. 
He had misgivings, he had asked her to return, 
but she might have written to request a delay 
— no! she was there ; she had been there two 
days, anxiously expecting him. It is so sweet 
a thing to hear the voice of one we love wel- 
coming us on our return home ! It seems to 
assure us of a double existence ; not only in 
our own identity — which we bear perpetually 
about with us — but in the heart we leave be- 
hind, which has thought of us — lived for us, 
and now beats with warm pleasure on behold- 
ing the expected one. On the whole earth 
Falkner loved none but Elizabeth. He hated 
himself; the past — the present — the future, as 
they appertained to him, were all detestable ; 



FALKNEH. 



131 



remorse, grief, and loathsome anticipation, 
made up the sum of feelings with which he re- 
garded them : but here, bright and beautiful; 
without taint ; all affection and innocence — 
a monument of his own good feelings, a lasting 
rock to which to moor his every hope; stood 
before him, the child of his adoption; his 
heart felt bursting when he thought of all she 
was to him. 

Yet a doubt entered to mar his satisfaction — 
was she changed ? If love had insinuated itself 
into her heart, he was ejected ; at least the 
plenteous abundant fountain, that gave from 
its own source, would be changed to the still 
waters that neither received increase, nor be- 
stowed any overflowing. Worse than this — 
she loved Gerard Neville, the son of his victim, 
he whose life was devastated by him, who 
would regard him with abhorrence. He would 
teach Elizabeth to partake this feeling. The 
blood stood chilled in Falkner's heart, when he 
thought of thus losing the only being he loved 
on earth. 



132 FALKNEU. 

He mastered these feelings when lie saw her. 
The first moment, indeed, when she flew to his 
arms and expressed with eager fondness her 
delight in seeing him again, was all happiness. 
She perceived the traces of suffering on his 
brow, and chided herself for having remained 
away so long ; she promised never to absent 
herself thus again. Every remembered look, 
and tone, of her dear face, and voice, now 
brought palpably before him, was a medicine 
to Falkner. He repressed his uneasiness, he 
« banished his fears ; for a few hours he made 
happiness his own again. 

The evening* was passed in calm and cheer- 
ing conversation. No word was said of the 
friends whom Elizabeth had left. She had 
forgotten them, during the first few hours 
she spent with her father; and when she 
did allude to her visit, Falkner said, " We 
will talk of these things to-morrow ; to-night, 
let us only think of ourselves." Elizabeth felt 
a little mortified ; the past weeks, the fortunes 
of her friends, and the sentiments they excited, 



FALKNER. 133 

* 

had become a part of herself; and she was 
pained that so much of disjunction existed 
between her and Falkner, as ,to make that 
which was so vivid and present to her, vacant 
of interest to him ; but she checked her disap- 
pointment : soon he would know her new friend, 
sympathize in his devotion towards his injured 
mother, enter as warmly as she did, into the 
result of his endeavours for her exculpation. 
Meanwhile she yielded to his wish, and they 
talked of scenes and countries they had visited 
together, and all the feelings and opinions 
engendered by the past; as they were wont to 
do in days gone by, before a stranger influence 
had disturbed a world in which they lived for 
each other only — father and daughter — without 
an interest beyond. 

Nothing could be more pure and entire 
than their affection, and there was between 
them that mingling of hearts, which words 
cannot describe ; but which, whenever it is 
experienced, in whatever relation in life, is 



134 IALKNEK. 

unalloyed happiness. There was a total ab- 
sence of disguise, of covert censure, of mu- 
tual diffidence ; perfect confidence gave rise 
to the fearless utterance of every idea, and 
there was a repose, and yet an enjoyment in 
the sense of sympathy and truth, which filled 
and satisfied. Falkner was surprised at the 
balmy sense of joy that, despite every thing, 
stole over him ; and he kissed, and blessed 
his child, as she retired for the night, with 
more grateful affection, a fuller sense of her 
merits, and a more fervent desire of preserv- 
ing her always near him, than he had ever 
before been conscious of experiencing. 



FALKXER. 135 






CHAPTER VIII. 



Elizabeth rose on the following morning, 
her bosom glowing with a sensation of acknow- 
ledged happiness. So much of young love 
brooded in her heart, as quickened its pul- 
sations, and gave lightness and joy to her 
thoughts. She had no doubts, nor fears, nor 
even hopes : she was not aware that love was 
the real cause of the grateful sense of happi- 
ness, with which she avowed, to Heaven and 
herself, that all was peace. She was glad to 
be reunited to Falkner, for whom she felt an 
attachment at once so respectful, and yet, on 



136 1 ALKNER. 

account of his illness and melancholy, so 
watchful and tender, as never allowed her to 
be wholly free from solicitude, when absent 
from him. Also she expected on that morning 
to see Gerard Neville. When Falkner's letter 
came to hasten her departure from Oakly. 
she felt grieved at the recall, at the moment 
when she was expecting him to join her, so to 
fill up the measure of her enjoyments ; with 
all this, she was eager to obey, and anxious to 
be with him again. Lady Cecil deputed Miss 
Jervis to accompany her. On the very 
morning of their departure, Neville asked for 
a seat in the carriage ; they travelled to town 
together, and when they separated, Neville 
told her of his intention of immediately io- 
curing a passage to America, and since then, 
had wiitten a note to mention that he should 
ride over to Wimbledon on that morning. 

The deep interest that Elizabeth took in his 
enterprise, made her solicitous to know 
whether he had procured any further infor- 



FALKNER. 

mation ; but her paramount desire was to 
introduce him to Falkner, to inspire him with 
her sentiments of friendship ; and to see two 
persons, whom she considered superior to the 
rest of the world, bound to each other by a 
mutual attachment ; she wanted to impart to 
her father a pity for Alithea's wrongs, and an 
admiration for her devoted son. She walked 
in the shrubbery before breakfast, enjoying 
nature with the enthusiasm of love ; she 
gathered the last roses of the departing season, 
and mingling them with a few carnations, 
hung, with a new sense of rapture, over these 
fairest children of nature ; for it is the property 
of love to enhance all our enjoyments, " to 
paint the lily, and add a perfume to the rose." 
When she returned to the house, she was told 
that Falkner still slept, and had begged not 
to be disturbed. She breakfasted, therefore, 
by herself, sitting by the open casement, and 
looking on the waving trees, her flowers 
shedding a sweet atmosphere around ; some- 



138 FALKNER. 

times turning to her open book, where she 
read of 

"The heavenly Una with her milk-white lamb," 

and sometimes leaning her cheek upon her 
hand, in one of those reveries where we rather 
feel than think, and every articulation of the 
frame thrills with a living bliss. 

The quick canter of a horse, the stopping 
at the gate, the ringing of the bell, and the 
entrance of Neville, made her heart beat, and 
her eyes light up with gladness. He entered 
with a lighter step, a more cheerful and 
animated mien, than usual. He was aware 
that he loved. He was assured that Elizabeth 
was the being selected from the whole world 
who could make him happy; while he regarded 
her with all the admiration, the worship, due 
to her virtues. He had never loved before. 
The gloom that had absorbed him, the shyness 
inspired by his extreme sensitiveness, had 
hitherto made him avoid the society of women, 



FALKNER. 139 

their pleasures, their gaiety, their light, airy 
converse, were a blank to him ; it was Eliza- 
beth^ sufferings that first led him to remark 
her: the clearness of her understanding, her 
simplicity, tenderness, and dignity of soul won 
him ; and lastly, the unbounded, undisguised 
sympathy she felt for his endeavours, which 
all else regarded as futile and insane, riveted 
him to her indissolubly. 

Events were about to separate them, but 
her thoughts would accompany him across the 
Atlantic — stand suspended while his success 
was dubious, and hail his triumph with a joy 
equal to his own. The very thought gave 
fresh ardour to his desire to fulfil his task ; 
he had no doubt of success, and, though the 
idea of his mother's fate was still a cloud in 
the prospect, it only mellowed, without 
defacing, the glowing tints shed over it by 
love. 

They met with undisguised pleasure ; he sat 
near her, and gazed with such delight as, to 



140 PALKNER. 

one less inexperienced than Elizabeth, would 
have at once betrayed the secret of his heart. 
He told her that he had found a vessel about 
to sail for New York, and that he had engaged 
a passage on board. He was restless and 
uneasy, he feared a thousand chances ; he felt 
as if he were neglecting his most sacred duty 
by any delay; there was something: in him 
urging him on, telling him that the crisis was 
at hand ; and yet, that any neglect on his part 
might cause the moment to slip by for ever. 
When arrived at New York, he should proceed 
with all speed to Washington, and then, if 
Osborne had not arrived, he should set forward 
to meet him. So much might intervene to 
balk his hopes ! Osborne might die, and his 
secret die with him. Every moment's delay 
was crime. The vessel was to drop down the 
river that very night, and to-morrow he was 
to join her at Sheerness. He had come to say 
farewell. 

This sudden departure led to a thousand 



FALKNER. 141 

topics of interest; to his hopes— his certainty, 
that all would soon be revealed, and he 
rewarded for his long suffering. Such ideas 
led him to speak of the virtues of his mother, 
which were the foundation of his hopes. He 
spoke of her as he remembered her; he 
described her watchful tenderness, her playful 
but well-regulated treatment of himself. Still 
in his dreams, he said, he sometimes felt 
pressed in her arms, and kissed with all the 
passionate affection of her maternal heart ; in 
such sweet visions her cry of agony would 
mingle ; it seemed the last shriek of woe and 
death. " Can you wonder," continued Neville, 
" can my father, can Sophia wonder, that, 
recollecting all these things, I will not bear 
without a struggle that my mother's name 
should be clouded, her fate encompassed by 

ITT T T • • 1 

mystery and blame ; her very warm, kind 
feelings and enchanting sensibility turned into 
accusations against her. I do indeed hope 
and believe, that I shall learn the truth 



142 



FALKNER. 



whither I am going, and that the unfortunate 
victim of lawless violence, of whom Osborne 
spoke, is my lost mother ; but, if I am disap- 
pointed in this expectation, I shall not for that 
give up my pursuit ; it will only whet my 
purpose to seek the truth elsewhere." 

" And that truth may be less sad than you 
anticipate," said Elizabeth, " yet I cannot help 
fearing that the miserable tragedy which you 
have heard, is connected with your mother's 
fate." 

" That it is a tragedy may well dash my 
eagerness," replied Neville ;" for, right or 
wrong, I cannot help feeling that to see her 
again — to console her for her sufferings — to 
show that she is remembered, loved, idolized, 
by her son, would be a dearer reward to me, 
than triumph over the barbarous condemnation 
of the world, if that triumph is to be purchased 
by having lost her for ever. This is not an 
heroic feeling, I confess — " 

" If it be heroism," said Elizabeth, " to find 



FALKNER. 143 

our chief good in serving others ; if compas- 
sion, sympathy, and generosity, be greater 
virtues, as I believe, than cold self-absorbed 
severity, then is your feeling founded on the 
purest portion of our nature." 

While they were thus talking, seated near 
each other, Elizabeth's face beaming with 
celestial benignity, and Neville, in the warmth 
of his gratitude for her approval, had taken 
her hand and pressed it to his lips, the door 
opened, and Falkner slowly entered. , He had 
not heard of the arrival of the stranger ; but 
seeing a guest with Elizabeth, he divined in a 
moment who it was. The thought ran through 
his frame like an ice-bolt — his knees trembled 
under him — cold dew gathered on his brow — 
for a moment he leaned against the door-way, 
unable to support himself; while Elizabeth, 
perceiving his entrance, blushing she knew 
not why, and now frightened by the ghastly 
pallor of his face, started up, exclaiming, " My 
father ! Are you ill ? — " 



144 FALKNER. 

Falkner struggled a moment longer, and 
then recovered his self-possession. The dis- 
ordered expression of his countenance was 
replaced by a cold and stern look, which, 
aided by the marble paleness that settled over 
it, looked more like the chiselling of a statue 
than mortal endurance. A lofty resolve, to 
bear unflinchingly, was the spirit that moulded 
his features into an appearance of calm. Prom 
this moment he acquired strength of body, 
as well as of mind, to meet the destiny before 
him. The energy of his soul did not again 
fail. Every instant — every word, seemed to 
add to his courage — to nerve him to the utmost 
height of endurance ; to make him ready to 
leap, without one tremor, into the abyss 
which he had so long and so fearfully avoided. 

The likeness of Neville to his mother had 
shaken him more than all. His voice, whose 
tones were the same with hers, was another 
shock. His very name jarred upon his sense, 
but he betrayed no token of suffering. " Mr. 



FALKNER. 145 

Neville," said Elizabeth, "is come to take 
leave of me. To-morrow he sails to America." 

" To America! Wherefore?" asked Falkner, 

" I wrote to you," she replied ; " I explained 
the motives of this voyage. You know — " 

" I know all," said Falkner; "and this 
voyage to America is superfluous." 

Neville echoed the word with surprise, 
while Elizabeth exclaimed, " Do you think 
so? You must have good reasons for this 
opinion. Tell them to Mr. Neville. Your 
counsels, I am sure, will be of use to him. I 
have often wished that you had been with us. 
I am so glad that he sees you before he goes 
— if he does go. You say his voyage is super- 
fluous; tell him wherefore ; advise him. Your 
advice will, I am sure, be good. I would give 
the world that he did the exact thing that is 
best — that is most likely to succeed." 

Neville looked gratefully at her as she 
spoke thus eagerly; while Falkner, still 
standing, his eyes fixed on, and scanning the 

VOL. II. H 



146 FALKNER. 

person of the son of his victim, marble pale, 
but displaying feeling by no other outward 
sign, scarcely heard what she said, till her 
last words drew his attention. He smiled, 
as in scorn, and said, " Oh, yes, I can ad- 
vise ; and he shall succeed — and he will not 
go. 

" I shall be happy," said Neville, with 
surprise. " I am willing to be advised — that 
is, if your advice coincides with my wishes." 

" It shall do so," interrupted Falkner. 

" Then," exclaimed Neville, impetuously, 
" the moments that I linger here will appear 
to you too many. You will desire that I 
should be on board already — already under 
sail — already arrived. You will wish the 
man whom I seek should be waiting on the 
sands when I reach the shore !" 

" He is much nearer," said Falkner, calmly : 
" he is before you. I am he !" 

Neville started ; " You ! What mean you? 
You are not Osborne." 



FALKNER. 147 

" I am Rupert Falkner ; your mother's de- 
stroyer." 

Neville glanced at Elizabeth — his eye met 
hers — their thought was the same, that this 
declaration proceeded from insanity. The fire 
that flashed from Falkner's eye as he spoke — 
the sudden crimson that dyed his cheeks — 
the hollow, though subdued, tone of his voice, 
gave warrant for such a suspicion. 

Elizabeth gazed on him with painful soli- 
citude. 

" I will not stay one moment longer," con- 
tinued Falkner, " to pain you by the sight of 
one so accursed as I. You will hear more 
from me this very evening. You will hear 
enough to arrest your voyage ; and remember 
that I shall remain ready to answer any call 
— to make any reparation — any atonement 
you may require." 

He was gone — the door closed ; it was as if 
a dread spectre had vanished, and Neville and 
Elizabeth looked at each other to read in the 

h 2 



148 



FALKNER. 



face of either, whether both were conscious of 
having been visited by the same vision. 

" What does he mean? Can you tell me 
what to think ?" cried Neville, almost gasping 
for breath. 

" I will tell you in a few hours," said Eli- 
zabeth. " I must go to him now ; I fear he is 
very ill. This is madness. When your mother 
died, Mr. Neville, my father and I were tra- 
velling together in Russia or Poland. I re- 
member dates — I am sure that it was so. This 
is too dreadful. Farewell. You sail to-morrow 
— you shall hear from me to-night." 

" Be sure that I do," said Neville ; " for 
there is a method in his speech — a dignity and 
a composure in his manner, that enforces a 
sort of belief. What can he mean?" 

" Do you imagine," cried Elizabeth, " that 
there is any truth in these unhappy ravings ? 
That my father, who would not tread upon a 
worm — whose compassionate disposition and 
disinterestedness have been known to me 



FALKNER. 149 

since early childhood — the noblest, and yet 
the gentlest, of human beings — do you ima- 
gine that he is a murderer? Dear Mr. Neville, 
he never could have seen your mother!" 

" Is it indeed so?" said Neville; " yet he 
said one word — did you not remark? — he 
called himself Rupert. But I will not distress 
you. You will write ; or rather, as my time 
will be occupied in preparations for my voy- 
age, and I scarcely know where the day will 
be spent, I will call here this evening at nine. 
If you cannot see me, send me a note to the 
gate, containing some information, either to 
expedite or delay my journey. Even if this 
strange scene be the work of insanity, how 
can I leave you in distress ? and if it be true 
what he says— if he be the man I saw tear my 
mother from me — how altered! how turned 
to age and decrepitude! Yet, if he be that 
man, then I have a new and horrible course 
to take." 



150 FALKNER. 

" Is it so !" cried Elizabeth, with indigna- 
tion ; " and can a man so cloud his fair fame, 
so destroy his very existence, by the wild words 
of delirium — that my dear father should be 
accused of being the most odious criminal !" 

" Nay," replied Neville, " I make no ac- 
cusation. Do not part from me in anger. 
You are right, I do not doubt ; and I am 
unjust. I will call to-night." 

" Do so without fail. Do not lose your 
passage. I little knew that personal feeling 
would add to my eagerness to learn the truth. 
Do not stay for my sake. Come to-night and 
learn how false and wild my father's words 
were ; and then hasten to depart — to see 
Osborne — to learn all ! Farewell till this 
evening." 

She hurried away to Falkner's room, while 
stunned — doubting — forced, by Elizabeth, to 
entertain doubts, and yet convinced in his 
heart; for the name of Rupert brought convic- 



FALKNER. 351 

tion home — Neville left the house. He had en- 
tered it fostering the sweetest dreams of happi- 
ness, and now he dared not look at the reverse. 
Elizabeth, filled with the most poignant 
inquietude with regard to his health, hastened 
to the sitting-room which Falkner usually 
occupied. She found him seated at the table, 
with a small box — a box she well remembered 
— open before him. He was looking over the 
papers it contained. His manner was per- 
fectly composed — the natural hue had returned 
to his cheeks — his look was sedate. He was, 
indeed, very different from the man who, 
thirteen years before, had landed in Corn- 
wall, He was then in the prime of life ; and 
if passion defaced his features, still youth, 
and health, and power, animated his frame. 
Long years of grief and remorse, with sick- 
ness superadded, had made him old before 
his time. The hair had receded from the 
temples, and what remained was sprinkled 
with grey ; his figure was bent and atte- 



152 FALKNER. 

nuated ; his face care-worn ; yet, at this mo- 
ment, he had regained a portion of his former 
self. There was an expression on his face of 
satisfaction, almost of triumph ; and when he 
saw Elizabeth, the old, sweet smile, she knew 
and loved so well, lighted up his countenance. 
He held out his hand ; she took it. There 
was no fever in the palm — his pulse was 
equable ; and when he spoke, his voice did 
not falter. He said, " This blow has fallen 
heavily on you, my dear girl ; yet all will be 
well soon, I trust. Meanwhile it cannot be 
quite unexpected." 

Elizabeth looked her astonishment — he con- 
tinued : — " You have long known that a heavy 
crime weighs on my conscience. It renders 
me unfit to live ; yet, I have not been per- 
mitted to die. I sought death, but we are 
seldom allowed to direct our fate. I do not, 
however, complain ; I am well content with 
the end which will speedily terminate all." 

"My dearest father," cried Elizabeth, "I 



FALKNER. 153 

eannot guess what you mean. I thought — 
but no — you are not ill — you are not — " 

" Not mad, dearest? was that your thought ? 
It is a madness, at least, that has lasted long — 
since first you staid my hand on your mother's 
grave. You are too good, too affectionate, to 
regret having saved me, even when you hear 
who I am. You are too resigned to Provi- 
dence not to acquiesce in the way chosen, 
to bring all things to their destined end." 

Elizabeth put her arm round his neck, aud 
kissed him. "Thank you," said Falkner, 
" and God bless you for this kindness. I shall 
indeed be glad if you, from your heart, pardon 
and excuse me. Meanwhile, my love, there 
is something to be done. These papers con- 
tain an account of the miserable past; you 
must read them, and then let Mr. Neville have 
them without delay." 

" Nay," said Elizabeth, " spare me this one 
thing- — do not ask me to read the history of 
any one error of yours. In my eyes you must 

h 3 



154 FALKNER. 

ever be the first, and best of human beings — 
if it has ever been otherwise, I will not hear of it. 
You shall never be accused of guilt before me, 
even by yourself." 

" Call it, then, my justification," said Falk- 
ner. Ci But do not refuse my request — it is 
necessary. If it be pain, pardon me for in- 
flicting it ; but bear it for my sake — I wrote 
this narrative when I believed myself about to 
die in Greece, for the chief purpose of dis- 
closing the truth to you. I have told my 
story truly and simply, you can have it from 
no one else, for no human being breathes who 
knows the truth except myself. Yield then — 
you have ever been yielding to me — yield, I 
beseech you, to my solemn request ; do not 
shrink from hearing of my crimes, I hope soon 
to atone them. And then perform one other 
duty : send these papers to your friend — you 
know where he is." 

" He will call here this evening at nine.'' 
" By that time you will have finished ; I am 



FALKNER. 155 

going to town now, but shall return to-night. 
Mr. Neville will be come and gone before 
then, and you will know all. I do not doubt 
but that you will pity me— -such is your 
generosity, that perhaps you may love me 
still — but you will be shocked and wretched, 
and I the cause. Alas ! how many weapons 
do our errors wield, and how surely does 
retribution aim at our defenceless side ! To 
know that I am the cause of unhappiness to 
you, my sweet girl, inflicts a pang I cannot 
endure with any fortitude. But there is a 
remedy, and all will be well in the end." 

Elizabeth hung over him as he spoke, and 
he felt a tear warm on his cheek, fallen from 
her eye — he was subdued by this testimony of 
her sympathy— he strained her to his heart ; 
but in a moment after he reassumed his self- 
command, and kissing her, bade her farewell, 
and then left her to the task of sorrow he had 
assigned. 

She knew not what to think, what image 



156 FALKNER. 

to conjure up. His words were free from all 
incoherence ; before her also were the papers 
that would tell all — she turned from them 
with disgust ; and then again she thought of 
Neville, his departure, his promised return, 
and what she could say to him. It was a 
hideous dream, but there was no awakening; 
she sat down, she took out the papers : the 
number of pages written in her father's hand 
seemed a reprieve — she should not hear all the 
dreadful truth in a few, short, piercing words 
— there was preparation. For a moment she 
paused to gather her thoughts — to pray for 
fortitude — to hope that the worst was not 
there, but in its stead some venial error, that 
looked like crime to his sensitive mind — and 
then— — She began to read. 



FALKNER. 157 






CHAPTER IX. 



FALKNER'S NARRATIVE. 



" To palliate crime, and by investigating 
motive to render guilt less odious — such is 
not the feeling that rules my pen; to confer 
honour upon innocence, to vindicate virtue, 
and announce truth — though that offer my 
own name as a mark for deserved infamy — 
such are my motives. And if I reveal the se- 
crets of my heart and dwell on the circum- 
stances that led to the fatal catastrophe I 
record, so that, though a criminal, I do not 
appear quite a monster, let the egotism be 
excused for her dear sake — within whose young 



158 



FALKNER. 



and gentle heart I would fain that my memory 
should be enshrined without horror — though 
with blame. 

"The truth, the pure and sacred truth, will 
alone find expression in these pages. I write 
them in a land of beauty, but of desolation — 
in a country whose inhabitants are purchasing 
by blood and misery the dearest privileges 
of human nature — where I have come to die ! 
It is night ; the cooing aziolo, the hooting owl, 
the flashing fire-fly — the murmur of time- 
honoured streams ; the moonlit foliage of the 
grey olive w r oods — dark crags and rugged 
mountains, throwing awful shadows — and the 
light of the eternal stars ; such are the objects 
around me. Can a man speak false in the 
silence of night, when God and his own heart 
alone keep watch ! when conscience hears the 
moaning of the dead in the pauses of the breeze, 
and sees one pale, lifeless figure float away on 
the current of the stream ! My heart whispers 
that, before such witnesses, the truth will be 



FALKNER. i 59 

truly recorded ; and my blood curdles, and 
my nerves, so firm amidst the din of battle, 
shrink and shudder at the tale I am about to 
narrate. 

" What is crime ? 

"A deed done injurious to others — forbid- 
den by religion, condemned by morality, and 
which human laws are enacted to punish. 

" A criminal feels all mankind to be his foes, 
the whole frame of society is erected for his 
especial ruin. Before, he had a right to choose 
his habitation in the land of his forefathers— 
and placing the sacred name of liberty be- 
tween himself and power, none dared check 
his free-born steps — his will was his law ; the 
limits of his physical strength were the only 
barriers to his wildest wanderings ; he could 
walk erect and fear the eye of no man. He 
who commits a crime forfeits these privileges. 
Men from out the lowest grade of society can 
say to him — ' You must come with us I' — they 
can drag him from those he loves — immure 



160 FALKNER. 

him in a loathsome cell, dole out scant portions 
of the unchartered air, make a show of him, 
lead him to death — and throw his body to the 
dogs ; and society, which for the innocent 
would have raised one cry of horror against 
the perpetrators of such outrages, look on and 
clap their hands with applause. 

" This is a vulgar aspect of the misery of 
which 1 speak — a crime may never be disco- 
vered. Mine lies buried in my own breast. 
Years have passed and none point at me, and 
whisper, 'There goes the murderer!' — But 
do I not feel that God is my enemy, and my 
own heart whispers condemnation ? I know 
that I am an impostor, that any day may 
discover the truth ; but, more heavy than any 
fear of detection, is the secret hidden in my 
own heart, the icy touch of the death 1 caused 
creeps over me during the night. I am pur- 
sued by the knowledge that nought I do can 
prosper, for the cry of innocence is raised 
against me, and the earth groans with the 



FALKNER. 161 

secret burthen I have committed to her bo- 
som. That the death-blow was not actually 
dealt by my hand, in no manner mitigates the 
stings of conscience. My act was the mur- 
derer, though my intention was guiltless of 
death. 

" Is there a man who at some time has not 
desired to possess by illegal means a portion of 
another's property, or to obey the dictates of an 
animal instinct, and plant his foot on the neck 
of his enemy? Few are so cold of blood, or 
temperate of mood, as not at some one time 
to have felt hurried beyond the demarcations 
set up by conscience and law : few but have 
been tempted without the brink of the forbid- 
den ; but they stopped, while I leaped beyond, 
—there is the difference between us. Falsely 
do they say who allege that there is no difference 
in guilt between the thought and act : to be 
tempted is human ; to resist temptation— surely 
if framed like me, such is to raise us from our 
humanity, into the sphere of angels. 



162 FALKNER. 

" Many are the checks afforded us. Some 
are possessed by fear ; others are endowed by 
a sensibility so prophetic of the evil that must 
ensue, that perforce they cannot act the thing 
they desire ; they tremble at the idea of being 
the cause of events, over whose future course 
they can have no control ; they fear injuring 
others — and their own remorse. 

" But I disdained all these considerations ; 
they occurred but faintly and ineffectually to 
my mind. Piety, conscience, and moral re- 
spect yielded before a feeling which decked its 
desires in the garb of necessity. Oh, how vain it 
is to analyse motive ! Each man has the same 
motives ; but it is the materials of each mind — 
the plastic or rocky nature, the mild or the 
burning temperament, that rejects the alien in- 
fluence or receives it into its own essence, and 
causes the act. Such an impulse is as a sum- 
mer healthy breeze, just dimpling a still lake, 
to one; while to another it is the whirlwind 
that rouses him to spread ruin around. 



FALKNER. 163 

" The Almighty who framed my miserable 
being, made me a man of passion, They say 
that of such are formed the great and good. 
I know not that — I am neither ; but I will 
not arraign the Creator. I will hope that 
in feeling my guilt — in acknowledging the 
superexcellence of virtue, I fulfil, in part, 
his design. After me, let no man doubt but 
that to do what is right, is to insure his own 
happiness ; or that self-restraint, and submis- 
sion to the voice of conscience implanted in 
our souls, impart more dignity of feeling, more 
true majesty of being, than a puerile assertion 
of will, and a senseless disregard of immutable 
principles. 

" Is passion known in these days ? Such as 
I felt, has any other experienced it? The 
expression has fled from our lips ; but it is 
as deep-seated as ever in our hearts. Who, 
of created beings, has not loved ? Who of my 
sex has not felt the struggle, and the yield- 
ing in the struggle, of the better to the worse 



164 FALKNER. 

parts of our nature ? Who so dead to nature's 
influence as not, at least for some brief 
moments, to have felt that body and soul 
were a slight sacrifice to obtain possession of 
the affections of her he loved? Who, for 
some moment in his life, would not have seen 
his mistress dead at his feet, rather than 
wedded to another? To feel this tyranny of 
passion, is to be human ; to conquer it, is to be 
virtuous. He who conquers himself is, in my 
eyes, the only true hero. Alas, I am not such ! 
I am among the vanquished, and view the 
wretch I am ; and learn that there is nothing 
so contemptible, so pitiable, so eternally 
miserable, as he who is defeated in his conflict 
with passion. 

" That I am such, this very scene — this very 
occupation testifies. Once, the slave of head- 
long impulse; I am now the victim of remorse. 
I am come to seek death, because I cannot 
retrieve the past ; I long for the moment when 
the bullet shall pierce my flesh, and the pains 



FALKNER. 165 

of dissolution gather round me. Then I 
may hope to be, that for which I thirst, free ! 
There is one who loves me. She is pure and 
kind as a guardian angel — she is as my own 
child — she implores me to live. With her my 
days might pass in a peace and innocence 
that saints might envy ; but so heavy are the 
fetters of memory, so bitter the slavery of my 
soul, that even she cannot take away the sting 
from life. 

" Death is all I covet. When these pages 
are read, the hand that traces them will be 
powerless — the brain that dictates will have 
lost its functions. This is my last labour — 
my legacy to my fellow beings. Do not let 
them disdain the outpourings of a heart which 
for years has buried its recollections and re- 
morse in silence. The waters were pent up 
by a dam — now they rush impetuously forth — 
they roar as if pursued by a thousand torrents 
— their turmoil deafens heaven ; and what 
though their sound be only conveyed by the 



166 FALKNER. 

little implement that traces these lines — not 
less headlong than the swelling waves is ihe 
spirit that pours itself out in these words. 

" I am calmer now — I have been wandering 
beside the stream — and, despite the lurking 
foe and deceptive moonbeams, I have ascended 
the steep mountain's side — and looked out on 
the misty sea, and sought to gain from repos- 
ing nature some relief to my sense of pain. 
The hour of midnight is at hand — all is still — 
I am calm, and with deliberation begin to 
narrate that train of circumstances, or rather 
of feelings, that hurried me first to error, 
then to crime, and lastly, brought me here to 
die. 

" I lost my mother before I can well re- 
member. I have a confused recollection of 
her cry in g — and of her caressing me — and I 
can call to mind seeing her ill in bed, and her 
blessing me ; but these ideas are rather like 
revelations of an ante-natal life, than belonging 
to reality. She died when I was four years 



FALKNER. 167 

old. My childhood's years were stormy 
and drear. My father, a social, and I believe 
even a polite man in society, was rough and 
ill-tempered at home. He had gambled away 
his own slender younger brother's fortune and 
his wife's portion, and was too idle to attend 
to a profession, and yet not indolent enough 
for a life devoid of purpose and pursuit. Our 
family was a good one ; it consisted of two 
brothers, my father, and my uncle. This 
latter, favoured of birth and fortune, remained 
long unmarried ; and was in weak health. My 
father expected him to die. His death and 
his own consequent inheritance of the family 
estate, was his constant theme ; but the de- 
layed hope irritated him to madness. I knew 
his humour even as a child, and escaped it as 
I could. His voice, calling my name, made 
my blood run cold ; his epithets of abuse, 
so frequently applied, filled me with boiling 
but ineffectual rage. 

tc I am not going to dwell on those painful 



168 FALKNER. 

days, when a weak, tiny boy, I felt as if I 
could contend with the paternal giant ; and 
did contend, till his hand felled me to the 
ground, or cast me from his threshold with 
scorn and seeming hate. I dare say he did 
not hate me ; but certainly no touch of natural 
love warmed his heart. 

" One day he received a letter from his 
brother — I was but ten years old, but rendered 
old and care-worn by suffering ; I remember 
that I looked on him as he took it and ex- 
claimed, ' From Uncle John ! What have we 
here V with a nervous tremor as to the passions 
the perusal of it might excite. He chuckled 
as he broke the seal — he fancied that he called 
him to his dying bed — ' And that well over, 
you shall go to school, my fine fellow,' he cried ; 
' we shall have no more of your tricks at 
home.' He broke the seal, he read the letter. 
It announced his brother's marriage, and asked 
him to the wedding. I let fall the curtain 
over the scene that ensued : vou would have 



FALKNER. 169 

• 

thought that a villanous fraud had been com- 
mitted, in which I was implicated. He drove 
me with blows from his door ; I foamed with 
rage, and then I sat down and wept, and 
crept away to the fields, and wondered why 
I was born, and longed to kill my uncle, who 
was the cause to me of so much misery. 

" Every thing changed for the worse now. 
Hitherto my father had lived on hope — now 
he despaired. He took to drinking, which 
exalted his passions, and debased his reason. 
This at times gave me a superiority over him 
— when tipsy, I could escape his blows — 
which yet, when sober, fell on me with double 
severity. But even the respite I gained 
through his inebriety, afforded me no conso- 
lation — I felt at once humbled and indignant 
at the shame so brought on us. I, child as I 
was, expostulated with him — -I was knocked 
down, and kicked from the room. Oh, what a 
world this appeared to me ! a war of the weak 

VOL. II. i 



i70 



FALKNER. 



with the strong — and how I despised every- 
thing except victory. 

" Time wore on. My uncle's wife bore him 
in succession two girls. This was a respite. 
My father's spirits rose — but fallen as he was 
he could only celebrate his re-awakened hopes 
by deeper potations and coarse jokes. The next 
offspring was a boy — he cost my father his life. 
Habits of drink had inflamed his blood — and 
his violence of temper made him nearly a 
maniac. On hearing of the birth of the heir, 
he drank to drown thought ; wine was too slow 
a medicine, he quaffed deeply of brandy, and 
fell into a sleep, or rather torpor, from which 
he never after awoke. It was better so — he 
had spent every thing — he was deeply in debt 
— he had lost all power of raising himself from 
the state of debasement into which he had 
fallen — the next day would have seen him in 
prison. 

" I was taken in by my uncle. At first the 



FALKNER. 171 

peace and order of the household seemed to 
me paradise — the comfort and regularity of 
the meals was a sort of happy and perpetual 
miracle. My eye was no longer blasted by 
the sight of frightful excesses, nor my ear 
wounded by obstreperous shouts. I was no 
longer reviled — I no longer feared being felled 
to the ground — I was not any more obliged to 
obtain food by stratagem, or by expostulations, 
which always ended by my being the victim 
of personal violence. The mere calm was 
balmy, and I fancied myself free, because I 
was no longer in a state of perpetual terror. 

" But soon I felt the cold and rigid atmo- 
sphere that, as far as regarded me, ruled this 
calm. No eye of love ever turned on me, 
no voice ever spoke a cheering word. I was 
there on sufferance, and was quickly deemed 
a troublesome inmate ; while the order and 
regularity required of me, and the law passed 
that I was never to quit the house alone, 
became at last more tormenting than the pre- 

i 2 



172 FALKNER. 

carious, but wild and precious liberty of my 
former life. My habits were bad enough ; 
my father's vices had fostered my evil quali- 
ties — I had never learnt to lie or cheat, for 
such was foreign to my nature, but I was 
rough, self-willed, lazy, and insolent. I have 
a feeling, such was my sense of bliss on first 
entering the circle of order and peace, that a 
very little kindness would have subdued my 
temper, and awakened a desire to please. It 
was not tried. From the very first, I was 
treated with a coldness to which a child is 
peculiarly sensitive ; the servants, by enforc- 
ing the rules of the house, became first my 
tormentors, and then my enemies. I grew im- 
perious and violent — complaint, reprehension, 
and punishment, despoiled my paradise of its 
matin glow — and then I returned at once to 
my own bad self; I was disobedient and reck- 
less ; soon it was decreed that I was utterly 
intolerable, and I was sent to school. 

" This, a boy's common fate, I had endured 



FALKNER. 

without a murmur, had it not been inflicted. 
as a punishment, and I made over to my new 
tyrants, even in my own hearing, as a little 
blackguard, quite irreclaimable, and only to 
be kept in order by brute force. It is impos- 
sible to describe the effect of this declaration 
of my uncle — followed up by the master's re- 
commendation to the usher to break my spirit, 
if he could not bend it — had on my heart, which 
was bursting with a sense of injury, panting 
for freedom, and resolved not to be daunted 
by the menaces of the tyrants before me. I 
declared war with my whole soul against the 
world ; I became all I had been painted ; 1 was 
sullen, vindictive/desperate. I resolved to 
run away ; I cared not what would befall me— 
I was nearly fourteen — I was strong, and could 
work — I could join a gang of gipsies, I could 
act their life singly, and, subsisting by nightly 
depredation, spend my days in liberty. 

" It was at an hour when I was meditating 
flight, that the master sent for me. ; I be- 



174 FALKNER. 

lieved that some punishment was in prepa- 
ration. I hesitated whether I should not 
instantly fly — a moment's thought told me 
that that was impossible, and that I must 
obey. I went with a dogged air, and a deter- 
mination to resist. I found my tyrant with a 
letter in his hand. ' I do not know what to 
do with you/ he said ; ' I have a letter here 
from a relation, asking you to spend the 
day. You deserve no indulgence ; but for 
this once you may go. Remember, any fu- 
ture permission depends upon your turning 
over an entirely new leaf. Go, sir ; and be 
grateful to my lenity, if you can. Remember, 
you are to be home at nine/ I asked no 
questions^-I did not know where I was to 
go; yet I left him without a word. I was 
sauntering back to the prison yard, which 
they called a play-ground, when I was told 
that there was a pony-chaise at the door, 
ready to take me. My heart leaped at the 
word ; I fancied that, by means of this con- 



FALKNER. 175 

veyance, I could proceed on the first stage of 
my flight. The pony-carriage was of the hum- 
blest description; an old man drove. I got 
in, and away we trotted, the little cob that 
drew it going much faster than his looks 
gave warrant. The driver was deaf — I was 
sullen — not a word did we exchange. My 
plan was, that he should take me to the 
farthest point he intended, and then that 1 
should leap out and take to my heels. As we 
proceeded, however, my rebel fit somewhat 
subsided. We quitted the town in which the 
school was situated, and the dreary dusty 
roads I was accustomed to perambulate under 
the superintendence of the ushers. We en^ 
tered shady lanes and umbrageous groves ; 
we perceived extensive prospects, and saw 
the winding of romantic streams; a curtain 
seemed drawn from before the scenes of 
nature ; and my spirits rose as I gazed on 
new objects, and saw earth spread wide and 



176 FALKNER. 

free around. At first this only animated me 
to a keener resolve to fly ; but as we went on, 
a vague sentiment possessed my soul. The 
sky-larks winged up to heaven, and the swal- 
lows skimmed the green earth ; I felt happy 
because nature was gay, and all things free 
and at peace. We turned from a lane redo- 
lent with honeysuckle into a little wood, 
whose short, thick turf was interspersed with 
moss, and starred with flowers. Just as we 
emerged, I saw a little railing, a rustic green 
gate, and a cottage clustered over with wood- 
bine and jessamine, standing secluded among, 
yet peeping out from the overshadowing trees. 
A little peasant boy threw open the gate, and 
we drove up to the cottage door. 

" At a low window, which opened on the 
lawn, in a large arm-chair, sat a lady, evi- 
dently marked by ill health, yet with some- 
thing so gentle and unearthly in her appear- 
ance as at once to attract and please. Her 



FALKtfER, 177 

complexion had faded into whiteness— her 
hair was nearly silver, yet not a grisly greyish 
white, but silken still in its change ; her dress 
was also white — and there was something of 
a withered look about her — redeemed by a 
soft, but bright grey eye, and more by the 
sweetest smile in the world, which she wore, 
as rising from her chair, she embraced me, 
exclaiming, ' I know you from your likeness 
to your mother — dear, dear Rupert.' 

" That name of itself touched a chord which 
for many years had been mine. My mother 
had called me by that name ; so, indeed, had 
my father, when any momentary softness of 
feeling allowed liim to give me any othei* 
appellation except, ' You sir!' 1 You dog, you!' 
My uncle, after whom I was also called John, 
chose to drop what he called a silly, romantic 
name ; and in his house, and in his letters, 
I was always John. Rupert breathed of a 
dear home, and my mother's kiss ; and I looked 
inquiringly on her who gave it me, when my 

i 3 



178 FALKNER. 

attention was attracted, riveted by the vision 
of a lovely girl, who had glided in from an- 
other room, and stood near us, radiant in youth 
and beauty. She was indeed supremely lovely 
— exuberant in all the charms of girlhood — 
and her beauty was enhanced by the very 
contrast to the pale lady by whom she stood — 
a houri she seemed, standing by a disembodied 
spirit — black, soft, large eyes, overpowering 
in their lustre, and yet more so from the 
soul that dwelt within — a cherub look — a 
fairy form ; with a complexion and shape 
that spoke of health and joy. What could it 
mean? Who could she be? And who was 
she who knew my name ? It was an enigma ; 
but one full of promise to me, who had so 
long been exiled from the charities of life ; 
and who, ' as the hart panteth for the water 
brooks,' panted for love. 



FALKNER. 179 



CHAPTER X, 



After a little explanation, I discovered 
who ray new friends were. The lady and my 
mother were remotely related ; but they had 
been educated together, and separated only 
when they married. My mother's death had 
prevented my knowing that such a relation 
existed ; far less that she took the warmest 
interest in the son of her earliest friend. Mrs. 
Rivers had been the poorer of the two, and 
for a long time considered that her childhood's 
companion was moving in an elevated sphere 
of life, while she had married a lieutenant in 



180 FALKNER. 

the navy ; and while he was away attending 
the duties of his profession, she lived in re- 
tirement and economy, in the rustic, low- 
roofed, yet picturesque and secluded cottage, 
whose leaf-shrouded casements and flowery 
lawn, even now, are before me, and speak of 
peace. I never call to mind that abode of 
tranquillity without associating it with the 
poet's wish : 

' Mine be a cot beside the hill — 

A beehive's hum shall soothe my ear ; 
A willowy brook, that turns a mill, 
With many a fall shall linger near.' 

To any one who fully understands and appre- 
ciates the peculiar beauties of England — who 
knows how much elegance, content, and 
knowledge can be sheltered under such a 
roof, these lines must ever, I think, as to me, 
have a music of their own, and, unpretending 
as they are, breathe the very soul of happi- 
ness. In this embowered cot, near which a 
clear stream murmured — which was clustered 



FALKNER. 181 

over by a thousand odoriferous parasites — 
which stood in the seclusion of a beech wood — 
there dwelt something more endearing even 
than all this — and one glance at the only- 
daughter of Mrs. Rivers, served to disclose 
that an angel dwelt in the paradise. 

" Alithea Rivers — there is music, and smiles, 
and tears — a whole life of happiness — and 
moments of intensest transport, in the sound. 
Her beauty was radiant; her dark eastern 
eye, shaded by the veined and darkly fringed 
lid, beamed with a soft, but penetrating fire ; 
her face of a perfect oval ; and lips, which 
were wreathed into a thousand smiles, or, 
softly and silently parted, seemed the home 
of every tender and poetic expression which 
one longed to hear them breathe forth ; her 
brow clear as day ; her swan throat, and sym- 
metrical and fairy-like form, disclosed a per- 
fection of loveliness, that the youngest and 
least susceptible must have felt, even if they 
did not acknowledge. 



182 FALKNER. 

" She had two qualities which I have never 
seen equalled separately, but which, united in 
her, formed a spell no one could resist — the 
most acute sensitiveness to joy or grief in her 
own person, and the most lively sympathy 
with these feelings in others. I have seen her 
so enter heart and soul into the sentiments of 
one in whom she was interested, that her whole 
being took the colour of their mood ; and her 
very features and complexion appeared to alter 
in unison with theirs. Her temper was never 
ruffled; she could not be angry; she grieved 
too deeply for those who did wrong : but she 
could be glad ; and never have I seen joy, the 
very sunshine of the soul, so cloudlessly ex- 
pressed as in her countenance. She could 
subdue the stoniest heart by a look — a word ; 
and were she ever wrong herself, a sincere 
acknowledgment, an ingenuous shame — grief 
to have offended, and eagerness to make repa- 
ration, turned her very error into a virtue. 
Her spirits were high, even to wildness ; but, 



FALKNER. 183 

at their height, tempered by such thought for 
others, such inbred feminine softness, that her 
most exuberant gaiety resembled heart-cheer- 
ing music, and made each bosom respond. 
All, every thing loved her; her mother ido- 
lized her ; each bird of the grove knew her ; 
and I felt sure that the very flowers she 
tended were conscious of, and rejoiced in, her 
presence. 

" Since my birth — or at least since I had lost 
my mother in early infancy, my path had been 
cast upon thorns and brambles — blows and 
stripes, cold neglect, reprehension, and de- 
basing slavery ; to such was I doomed. I had 
longed for something to love— and in the 
desire to possess something whose affections 
were my own, I had secreted at school a little 
nest of field mice on which I tended; but 
human being there was none who marked me, 
except to revile, and my proud heart rose in 
indignation against them, Mrs. Rivers had 
heard a sad story of my obduracy, my indo- 



184 FALKNER. 

lence, my violence ; she had expected to see a 
savage, but my likeness to my mother won 
her heart at once, and the affection I met 
transformed me at once into something worthy 
of her. I had been told I was a reprobate till 
1 half believed. I felt that there was war be- 
tween me and my tyrants, and I was desirous 
to make them suffer even as they made me. I 
read in books of the charities of life — and the 
very words seemed only a portion of that vast 
system of imposture with which the strong 
oppressed the weak. I did not believe in love 
or beauty ; or if ever my heart opened to it — it 
was to view it in external nature, and to won- 
der how all of perceptive and sentient in this 
wondrous fabric of the universe was instinct 
with injury and wrong. 

" Mrs. Rivers was a woman of feeling and 
sense. She drew me out — she dived into the 
secrets of my heart ; for my mother's sake she 
loved me, and she saw that to implant senti- 
ments of affection was to redeem a character 



FALKNER. 185 

not ungenerous, and far, far from cold — whose 
evil passions had been fostered as in a hot-bed, 
and whose better propensities were nipped in 
the bud. She strove to awaken my suscepti- 
bility to kindness, by lavishing a thousand 
marks of favour. She called me her son — her 
friend ; she taught me to look upon her regard 
as a possession of which nothing could deprive 
me — and to consider herself and her daughter 
as near and dear ties that could not be rent 
away. She imparted happiness, she awoke 
gratitude, and made me in my innermost heart 
swear to deserve her favour. 

"I now entered on a new state of being, and 
one of which I had formed no previous idea. 
I believed that the wish to please one who was 
dear to me, would render every task easy ; that 
I did wrong merely from caprice and revenge, 
and that if I chose, I could with my finger stem 
and direct the tide of my passions. I was as- 
tonished to find that I could not even bend my 



186 FALKNER. 

mind to attention — and I was angry with my- 
self, when I felt my breast boiling with tumul- 
tuous rage, when I promised myself to be 
meek, enduring and gentle. My endeavours 
to conquer these evil habits were indeed ar- 
duous. I forced myself by fits and starts to 
study sedulously — I yielded obedience to our 
school laws ; I taxed myself to bear with pa- 
tience the injustice and impertinence of the 
ushers, and the undisguised tyranny of the 
master. But I could not for ever string my- 
self to this pitch. Meanness and falsehood, 
and injustice, again and again awoke the tiger 
in me. I am not going to narrate my boy- 
hood's wrongs ; I was doomed. Sent to school 
with a bad character which at first I had taken 
pains to deserve; and afterwards doing right 
in my own way, and still holding myself aloof 
from all, scorning their praise, and untouched 
by their censure, I gained no approbation, and 
was deemed a dangerous savage — whose nails 



FALKNER. 187 

must be kept close pared — and whose limbs 
were still to be fettered, lest he should rend 
his keepers. 

" From such a scene I turned, each Sunday 
morning, my willing steps to the cottage of 
Mrs. Rivers. There was something fascinating 
to me in the very peculiarities of her appear- 
ance. Ill health had brought premature 
age upon her person — but her mind was as 
active and young — her feelings as warm as 
ever. She could only stand for a few minutes, 
and could not unassisted walk across the room 
— she took hardly any nourishment, and looked 
as I have said more like a spirit than a woman. 
Thus deprived of every outward resource, her 
mind acquired, from habits of reflection and 
resignation, aided by judicious reading, a pene- 
tration and delicacy quite unequalled. There 
was a philosophical truth in all her remarks, 
adorned by a feminine tact and extreme warmth 
of heart, that rendered her as admirable as 
she was endearing. Sometimes she suffered 



188 FALKNER. 

great pain, but for the most part her malady, 
which was connected with the spine, had only 
the effect ofextreme weakness, and at the same 
time of rendering her sensations acute and de- 
licate. The odour of flowers, the balmy air 
of morning, the evening breeze almost intoxi- 
cated her with delight ; any dissonant sound 
appeared to shatter her— peace was within 
and she coveted peace around ; and it was her 
dearest pleasure when we — I and her lovely 
daughter — were at her feet, she playing with 
the sunny ringlets of Alithea's hair, and I lis- 
tening, with a thirst for knowledge — and 
ardour to be taught ; while she with eloquence 
mild and cheering, full of love and wisdom, 
charmed our attentive ears, and caused us to 
hang on all she said as on the oracles of a 
divinity, 

" At times we left her, and Alitliea and I 
wandered through the woods and over the 
hills; our talk was inexhaustible, now can- 
vassing some observation of her mother, now 



FALKNER. 189 

pouring out our own youthful bright ideas, 
and enjoying the breezes and the waterfalls, 
and every sight of nature, with a rapture 
unspeakable. When we came to rugged 
uplands, or some swollen brook, I carried my 
young companion over in my arms ; I shel- 
tered her with my body from the storms that 
sometimes overtook us. I was her protector 
and her stay.; and the very office filled me 
with pride and joy. When fatigued by our 
rambles, we returned home, bringing garlands 
of wild flowers for the invalid, whose wisdom 
we revered, whose maternal tenderness was 
our joy ; and yet, whose weakness made her, 
in some degree, dependent on us, and gave 
the form of a voluntary tribute to the attentions 
we delighted to pay her. 

" Oh, had I never returned to school, this 
life had been a foretaste of heaven ! but there 
I returned, and there again I found rebuke, 
injustice, my evil passions, and the fiends who 
tormented me. How my heart revolted from 



190 FALK^ER. 

the contrast! with what inconceivable strug- 
gles I tried to subdue my hatred, to be as 
charitable and forgiving as Mrs. Rivers im- 
plored me to be ; but my tormentors had the 
art of rousing the savage again, and despite 
good resolves, despite my very pride, which 
urged me merely to despise, I was again 
violent and rebellious ; again punished, again 
vowing revenge, and longing to obtain it. 
I cannot imagine — even the wild passions of 
my after life do not disclose — more violent 
struggles than those I went through. I 
returned from my friends, my heart stored 
with affectionate sentiments and good inten- 
tions; my brow was smooth, my mind unruf- 
fled ; my whole soul set upon at once 
commanding myself, and proving to my 
tyrants that they could not disturb the sort 
of heavenly calm with which I was penetrated. 
" On such a day, and feeling thus, I came 
back one evening from the cottage. I was 
met by one of the ushers, who, in a furious 



FALKNER. 191 

voice, demanded the key of my room, threat- 
ening me with punishment if I ever dared 
lock it again. This was a sore point ; my 
little family of mice had their warm nest in 
my room, and I knew that they would be torn 
from me if the animal before me penetrated 
into my sanctuary before I could get in to 
hide them ; but the fellow had learnt from the 
maids that I had some pets, and was resolute 
to discover them. I cannot dwell on the 
puerile, yet hideous, minutia of such a scene; 
the loud voice, the blow, the key torn from 
me, the roar of malice with which my pets 
were hailed, the call for the cat. My blood ran 
cold ; some slave — among boys even there are 
slaves — threw into the room the tiger animal ; 
the usher showed her her prey, but before she 
could spring, I caught her up, and whirled 
her out of window. The usher gave me a 
blow with a stick ; I was a well-grown boy, 
and a match for him unarmed ; he struck me 
on the head, and then drew out a knife, that 



192 FALKNER. 

he might himself commence the butcher's 
work on my favourites : stunned by the blow, 
but casting aside all the cherished calm I had 
hitherto maintained, my blood boiling, my 
whole frame convulsed with passion, I sprung 
on him. We both fell on the giound, his 
knife was in hand, open ; in our struggle I 
seized the weapon, and the fellow got cut 
in the head — of course I inflicted the wound; 
but had, neither before or at the time, the 
intention ; our struggle was furious, we were 
both in a state of frenzy, and an open knife 
at such a moment can hardly fail to do injury; 
I saw the blood pouring from his temple, and 
his efforts slacken. I jumped up, called 
furiously for help, and when the servants and 
boys rushed into the room, I made my escape. 
I leaped from the window, high as it was, and 
alighting, almost by a miracle, unhurt on the 
turf below, I made my way with all speed 
across the fields. Methought the guilt of 
murder was on my soul, and yet I felt exul- 



FALKNER. 



193 



tation that at last I, a boy, had brought upon 
the head of my foe some of the tortures he had 
so often inflicted upon me. By this desperate 
act, I believed that I had severed the cords 
that bound me to the vilest servitude. I knew 
not but that houseless want would be my 
reward, but I felt light as air, and free as a 
bird. 

" Instinctively my steps took the direction 
of my beloved cottage ; yet I dared not enter 
it. A few hours ago I had left it in a pure 
and generous frame of mind. I called to 
mind the conversation of the evening before, 
the gentle eloquence of Mrs. Rivers, inculcat- 
ing: those lessons of mild forbearance and 
lofty self-command, which had filled me with 
generous resolve ; and how was I to return ? 
— my hands dyed in blood. 

" I hid myself in the thicket near her 
house, sometimes I stole near it ; then, as I 
heard voices, I retreated further into the wild 
part of the wood. Night came on at last, and 

VOL. II. K 



194 FALKNER. 

that night I slept under a tree, but at a short 
distance from the cottage. 

" The cool morning air woke me ; and I 
began seriously to consider my situation ; 
destitute of friends and money, whither should 
I direct my steps ? I was resolved never to 
return to my school. I was nearly sixteen ; 
I was tall and athletic in my frame, though 
still a mere boy in my thoughts and pursuits ; 
still, I told myself that, such as I, many 
a stripling was cast upon the world, and that 
1 ought to summon courage, and to show my 
tyrants that I could exist independent of them. 
My determination was to enlist as a soldier ; 
I believed that I should so distinguish myself 
by my valour, as speedily to become a great 
man. I saw myself singled out by the generals, 
applauded, honoured, and rewarded. I fancied 
my return, and how proudly I should present 
myself before Alithea, having carved out my 
own fortune, and become all that her sweet 
mother entreated me to be — brave, generous, 



FALKNER. 195 

and true. But could I put my scheme in 
execution without seeing my young companion 
again? Oh, no! my heart, my whole soul 
led me to her side, to demand her sympathy, 
to ask her prayers, to bid her never forget 
me ; at the same time that I dreaded seeing 
her mother, for I feared her lessons of wisdom. 
I felt sure, I knew not why, that she would 
wholly disapprove of my design. 

" I tore a leaf from my pocket-book, and, 
with the pencil, implored Alithea to meet me 
in the wood, whence I resolved not to stir till 
I should see her. But how was I to convey 
my paper without the knowledge of her 
mother? or being seen by the servants? I 
hovered about all day ; it was not till night- 
fall that I ventured near, and, knowing well 
the casement of her room, I wrapped my letter 
round a stone, and threw it in. Then I 
retreated speedily. 

" It was night again ; 1 had not eaten for 
twenty-four hours ; I knew not when Alithea 

k2 



196 FALKNER. 

could come to me, but I resolved not to move 
from the spot I had designated, till she came. 
I hunted for a few berries, and a turnip that 
had fallen from a cart was as the manna of 
the desert. For a short half hour it stilled 
the gnawings of my appetite, and then I lay 
down unable to sleep. Eyeing the stars 
through the leafy boughs above, thinking 
alternately of a prisoner deserted by his gaoler, 
and starved to death, while at each moment 
he fancied the far step approaching, and the 
key turning in the lock ; and then, again, of 
feasts, of a paradise of fruits, of the simple, 
cheerful repasts at the cottage, which, for 
many a long year, I was destined never again 
to partake of. 

" It was midnight; the air was still, not a 
leaf moved ; sometimes I believed I dozed ; 
but I had a sense of being awake, always 
present to my mind; the hours seemed changed 
to eternity. I began suddenly to think I was 
dying; I thought I never should see the 



FALKNER. 197 

morrow's sun. Aiithea would come, but her 
friend would not answer to her call ; he would 
never speak to her more. At this moment, 
I heard a rustling ; was there some animal 
about? it drew near, it was steps; a white 
figure appeared between the trunks of the 
trees ; again, I thought it was a dream, till 
the dearest of all voices spoke my name, the 
loveliest and kindest face in the world bent 
over me ; my cold, clammy hand was taken in 
hers, so soft and warm. I started up, I threw 
my arms around her, I pressed her to my 
bosom. She had found my note on retiring 
for the night ; fearful of disobeying my in- 
junctions of secresy, she had waited till all 
was at rest, before she stole out to me ; and 
now, with all the thoughtfulness that charac- 
terized her, when another's wants and suffer- 
ings were in question, she brought food with 
her, and a large cloak to wrap my shivering 
limbs. She sat beside me as I ate, smiling 
through her tears ; no reproach fell from her 



198 FALKNER. 

lips, it was only joy to see me, and expressions 
of kind encouragement. 

" I dwell too much on these days ; my tale 
grows long, and I must abridge the dear 
recollections of those moments of innocence 
and happiness. Alithea easily persuaded me 
to see her mother, and Mrs. Rivers received 
me as a mother would a son, who has been in 
danger of death, and is recovering. I saw only 
smiles, I heard only congratulations. I won- 
dered where the misery and despair which 
gathered so thickly round me had flown — no 
vestige remained ; the sun shone unclouded 
on my soul. 

" I asked no questions, I remained passive ; 
I felt that something was being done for me, 
but I did not inquire what. Each day I spent 
several hours in study, so to reward the 
kindness of my indulgent friend. Each day 
I listened to her gentle converse, and wan- 
dered with Alithea over hill and dale, and 
poured into her ear my resolutions to become 



FALKNER. 199 

great and good. Surely in this world there 
are no aspirations so noble, pure, and godlike 
as those breathed by an enthusiastic boy, who 
dreams of love and virtue, and who is still 
guarded by childlike innocence. 

" Mrs. Rivers, meanwhile, was in correspon- 
dence with my uncle, and, by a fortunate 
coincidence, a cadetship long sought by him 
was presented at this moment, and I was 
removed to the East Indian military college. 
Before I went, my maternal friend spoke with 
all the fervour of affection of my errors, my 
duties, the expectation she had that I should 
show myself worthy of the hopes she enter- 
tained of me. I promised to her and to her 
Alithea — I vowed to become all they wished ; 
ny bosom swelled with generous ambition 
aid ardent gratitude ; the drama of life, 
msthought, was unrolling before me, the 
seme on which I was to act appeared re- 
splendent in fairy and gorgeous colours ; 
nei-her vanity, nor pride, swelled me up ; 



200 FALKNER. 

but a desire to prove myself worthy of those 
adored beings who were all the world to me, 
who had saved me from myself, to restore me 
to the pure and happy shelter of their hearts. 
Can it be wondered that, from that day to the 
present hour, they have seemed to me portions 
of heaven incarnate upon earth ; that I have 
prized the thought of them as a rich inherit- 
ance? And how did I repay? cold wan figure 
of the dead ! reproach me not thus with your 
closed eyes, and the dank strings of your wet 
clinging hair. Give me space to breathe, that 
I may record your vindication, and my crime. 
" I was placed at the military college. Hac 
I gone there at once, it had been well ; but 
first I spent a month at my uncle's, where I 
was treated like a reprobate and a criminal. I 
tried to consider this but as a trial of my pro- 
mises and good resolution to be gentle — to 
turn one cheek when the other was smitten. 
It is not for me to accuse others or defend ny- 
self ; but yet I think that I had imbibed so 



FALKNER. 201 

much of the celestial virtues of my instructress, 
that, had I been treated with any kindness, 
my heart must have warmed towards my re- 
latives ; as it was, I left my uncle's, having 
made a vow never to sleep beneath his roof 
again . 

" I reached the military college, and here I 
might fairly begin a new career. I exerted 
myself to study — to obey — to conciliate. The 
applause that followed my endeavours gave 
me a little pleasure ; but when I wrote to Ali- 
thea and her mother, and felt no weight on 
my conscience, no drawback to my hope, 
that I was rendering myself worthy of them, 
then indeed my felicity was without alloy ; 
and when my fiery temper kindled, when 
injustice and meanness caused my blood to 
boil, I thought of the mild appealing look of 
Mrs. Rivers, and the dearer smiles of her 
daughter, and I suppressed every outward 
sign of anger and scorn. 

" For two whole years I did not see these 

k3 



202 FALKNER. 

dear, dear friends, while I lived upon the 
thought of them — alas! when have I ceased 
to do that? — I wrote constantly and received 
letters. Those dictated by Mrs. Rivers — 
traced by her sweet daughter's hand — were 
full of all that generous benevolence, and 
enlightened sensibility, which rendered her 
the very being to instruct and rule me ; while 
the playful phrases of Alithea — her mention of 
the spots we had visited together, and history 
of all the slight events of her innocent life, 
breathed so truly of the abode of peace from 
which they emanated, that they carried the 
charm of a soft repose even to my restless 
spirit. A year passed, and then tidings of 
misery came. Mrs. Rivers was dying. Ali- 
thea wrote in despair — she was alone — her 
father distant. She implored my assistance — 
my presence. I did not hesitate. Her appeal 
came during the period that preceded an ex- 
amination ; I believed that it would be useless 
to ask leave to absent myself, and I resolved 



FALKNER. 203 

at once to go without permission. I wrote a 
letter to the master, mentioning that the sick- 
ness of a friend forced me to this step ; and 
then, almost moneyless and on foot, I set out 
to cross the country. I do not record tri- 
vialties — I will not mention the physical suf- 
ferings of that journey, they were so much less 
than the agony of suspense I suffered, the fear 
that I should not find my maternal friend 
alive. Life burnt low indeed — when I, at 
last, stepped within the threshold of her sick 
chamber ; yet she smiled when she saw me, 
and tried to hold out her hand — one already 
clasped that of Alithea. For hours we thus 
watched her, exchanging looks, not speech. 
Alithea, naturally impetuous, and even vehe- 
ment, now controlled all sign of grief, except 
the expression of woe, that took all colour 
from her face, and clouded her brow with 
anguish. She knelt beside her mother — her 
lips glued to her hand, as if to the last to feel 
her pulse of life, and assure herself that she 



204 FALKNER. 

still existed. The room was darkened ; a 
broken ray tinged the head of the mourner, 
while her mother lay in shadow — a shadow 
that seemed to deepen as the hue of death 
crept over her face, now and then she opened 
tier eyes — now and then murmured inarticu- 
ately, and then she seemed to sleep. We 
neither moved — sometimes Alithea raised her 
head and looked on her mother's countenance, 
and then seeing the change already operated, it 
drooped over the wan hand she held. Suddenly 
there was a alight sound— a slight convulsion in 
the fingers. I saw a shade darken over the face 
— something seemed to pass over, and then 
away — and all was marble still — and the lips, 
wreathed into a smile, became fixed and 
breathless. Alithea started up, uttered a 
shriek, and threw herself on her mother's 
body — such name I give — the blameless soul 
was gone for ever. 

" It was my task to console the miserable 
daughter ; and such was the angelic softness 



FALKNER. 205 

of Alithea's disposition, that when the first 
burst of grief was over, she yielded to be con- 
soled. There was no hardness in her regrets. 
She collected every relic, surrounded herself 
with every object, that might keep alive the 
memory of her parent. She talked of her con- 
tinually ; and together we spoke of her virtues 
— her wisdom, her ardent affection — and felt a 
thrilling, trembling pleasure in recalling every 
act and word that most displayed her excel- 
lence. As we were thus employed, I could con- 
template and remark the change the interval 
of my absence had operated in the beautiful 
girl — she had sprung into womanhood, her 
figure was surrounded by a thousand graces ; 
a tender charm was diffused over each linea- 
ment and motion that intoxicated me with 
delight. Before I loved — now I revered her 
- her mother's angelic essence seemed united 
to hers, forming two in one. The sentiments 
these beings had divided, were now concen- 
trated in her ; and added to this, a breathless 



206 FALKNER. 

adoration, a heart's devotion — which still even 
now dwells beside her grave, and hallows every 
memory that remains. 

" The cold tomb held the gentle form of 
Mrs. Rivers : each day we visited it, and each 
day we collected fresh memorials", and exhaust- 
ed ourselves in talk concerning the lost one. 
Immediately on my arrival I had written to 
my uncle, and the cause of my rash act plead- 
ing my excuse, it was visited less severely than 
I expected ; I was told that it was well that I 
displayed affection and gratitude towards a too 
indulgent friend, though my depravity be- 
trayed itself in the manner even in which I 
fulfilled a duty. I was bid at once return to 
the college — after a fortnight had passed I 
obeyed ; and now I lived on Alithea's letters, 
which breathed only her eloquent regrets — 
already my own dream of life was formed to 
be for ever her protector, her friend, her ser- 
vant, her all that she could deign to make me ; 
to devote myself day after day, year after 



FALKKER. 207 

year, through all my life to her only. While 
with her, oppressed by grief as we both were, 
I did not understand my own sensations, and 
the burning of my heart, which opened as a 
volcano when I heard her only speak my 
name, or felt the touch of her soft hand. But, 
returned to college, a veil fell from my eyes. 
I knew that I loved her, I hailed the discovery 
with transport ; I hugged to my bosom the 
idea that she was the first and last being to 
awaken the tumultuous sensations that took 
away my breath, dimmed my eyes, and dis- 
solved me into tenderness. 

" Soon after her mother's death she was 
placed as a parlour boarder at a school — I saw 
her once there, but I did not see her alone — 
I could not speak, I could only gaze on her 
unexampled loveliness ; nor, strange to say, 
did I wish to disclose the passion that agitated 
me ; she was so young, so confiding, so inno- 
cent, I wished to be but as a brother to her, 
for I had a sort of restless presentiment, that 



208 FALKNER. 

distance and reserve would ensue on my dis- 
closing my other feeling. In fact, I was a 
mere boy ; I knew myself to be a friendless 
one, and I desired time and consideration, and 
the fortunate moment to occur, before I ex- 
changed our present guileless, but warm and 
tender attachment, for the hopes and throes 
of a passion which demands a future, and is 
therefore full of peril. True, when I left her 
I reproached myself for my cowardice ; but I 
would not write, and deferred, till I saw her, 
all explanation of my feelings. 

" Some months after, the time arrived when 
I was to embark for India. Captain Rivers had 
returned, and inhabited the beloved cottage, 
and Alithea dwelt with him ; I went to see her 
previous to my departure. My soul was in tu- 
mults ; I desired to take her with me ; but that 
was impossible, and yet to leave her thus, and 
go into a far and long exile away from her, was 
too frightful ; I could not believe that I could 
exist without the near hope and expectation 



FALKNER. 209 

of seeing her, without that constant mingling 
of hearts which made her life-blood but as a 
portion of my own. My resolution was easily 
made to claim her as mine, my betrothed, my 
future bride ; and I had a vague notion that, if 
I were accepted, Captain Rivers would form 
some plan to prevent my going to India, or to 
bring me back speedily. I arrived at the 
cottage, and the first sight of her father was 
painful to me— he was rough and uncouth ; 
and though proud of his daughter, yet treated 
her with little of that deference to which she 
had a right even from him — the more reason, 
I thought, to make her mine ; and that very 
evening I expressed my desire to Captain 
Rivers : a horse -laugh was the reply — he treated 
me partly as a mad boy, partly as an impertinent 
beggar. My passions were roused, my indig- 
nation burst all the fetters I sought to throw 
over it — I answered haughtily — insolently — 
our words were loud and rude ; I laughed at 



210 FALKNER. 

his menaces, and scoffed at his authority. I 
retorted s*corn with scorn, till the fiery old 
sailor was provoked to knock me down. In 
all this I thought not of him in the sacred 
character of Alithea's father — I knew but one 
parent for her, she had as it were joined us 
by making us companions, and friends — both 
children of her heart ; she was gone, and the 
rude tyrant who usurped her place excited 
only detestation and loathing, from the inso- 
lence of his pretensions. Still, when he struck 
me, his age, and his infirmities — for he was 
lame — prevented my returning the blow. I 
rose, and folding my arms, and looking at him 
with a smile of ineffable contempt, I said, 
" Poor miserable man! do you think to de- 
grade me by a blow ? but for pity, I could 
return it so that you would never lift up your 
head again from that floor — I spare you — 
farewell. You have taught me one lesson — 
I will die rather than leave Alithea in the 



FALKNER. 211 

hands of a ruffian, such as you." With these 
words I turned on my heel, and walked out of 
the house. " 

" I repaired to a neighbouring public-house, 
and wrote to Alithea, asking, demanding an 
interview; I claimed it in her mother's name. 
Her answer came, it was wetted with her tears 
— dear gentle being ! — so alien was her nature 
from all strife, that the very idea of conten- 
tion shook her delicate frame, and seemed 
almost to unhinge her reason. She respected 
her father, and she loved me with an affection 
nourished by long companionship, and sacred 
associations. She promised to meet me, if I 
would abstain from again seeing her father. 

" In the same wood, and at the same mid- 
night hour, as when before she came to bring 
assistance and consolation to the outcast boy 
three years before, I saw her again ; and for 
the last time, before I quitted England. Alir 
thea had one fault, if such name may be given 
to a delicacy of structure that rendered every 



212 FALKNER. 

clash of human passion, terrifying. In phy- 
sical danger, she could show herself a he- 
roine ; but awaken her terror of moral evil, 
and she was hurried away beyond all self- 
command by spasms of fear. Thus, as she 
came now clandestinely, under the cover of 
night, her father's denunciations still sound- 
ing in her ears — the friend of her youth 
banished — going away for ever ; and that de- 
parture disturbed by strife, her reason almost 
forsook her — she was bewildered — clinging to 
me with tears — yet fearful at every minute of 
discovery. It was a parting of anguish. She 
did not feel the passion that ruled my bosom. 
Hers was a gentler, sisterly feeling ; yet not 
the less entwined with the principles of her 
being, and necessary to her existence. She 
lavished caresses and words of endearment 
on me : she could not tear herself away ; yet 
she rejected firmly every idea of disobedience 
to her father ; and the burning expressions of 
my love found no echo in her bosom. 



FALKNER. 



213 



" Thus we parted ; and a few days afterwards 
I was on the wide sea, sailing for my distant 
bourn. At first I had felt disappointed and 
angry ; but soon imagination shed radiance 
over what had seemed chilly and dim. I felt 
her dear head repose on my heart ; I saw her 
bright eyes overbrimming with tears ; and 
heard her sweet voice repeat again and again 
her vow never to forget her brother, her more 
than brother, her only friend ; the only being 
left her to love. No wonder that, during the 
various changes of a long voyage — during 
reveries indulged endlessly through calm 
nights, and the mightier emotions awakened 
by storm and danger, that the memory of 
this affection grew into a conviction that I 
was loved, and a belief that she was mine for 
ever. 

" I am not writing my life ; and, but for 
the wish to appear less criminal in my dear 
child's eyes, I had not written a word of the 
foregone pages, but leaped at once to the mere 



214 FALKNER. 

facts that justify poor Alithea, and tell the 
tragic story of her death. Years have past, and 
oblivion has swept away all memory of the 
events of which I speak. Who recollects tlie 
wise, white lady of the secluded cot, and her 
houri daughter ? This heart alone, there they 
live enshrined. My dreams call up their forms. 
I visit them in my solitary reveries. I try to 
forget the ensuing years, and to become the 
heedless, half-savage boy, who listened with 
wonder, yet conviction, to lessons of virtue ; and 
to call back the melting of the heart which the 
wise lady's words produced, and the bounding, 
wild joy I felt beside her child. If there is a 
hell, it need no other torment but memory 
to call back such scenes as these, and bid me 
remember the destruction that ensued. 

" I remained ten years in India, an officer 
in a regiment of the Company's cavalry. I 
saw a good deal of service ; went through 
much suffering ; and doing my duty on the 
field of battle, or at the hour of attack, I 



FALKNER. 215 

gained that approbation in the field, which I 
lost when in quarters by a sort of systematized 
insubordination, which was a part of my un- 
tameable nature. In action even, I went be- 
yond my orders — however that was forgiven ; 
but when in quarters., 1 took part with the 
weak, and showed contempt for the powerful. 
I was looked upon as dangerous ; and the 
more so, that the violence of my temper often 
made my manner in a high degree reprehen- 
sible. I attached myself to several natives ; 
that was a misdemeanor. I strove to incul- 
cate European tastes and spirit, enlightened 
views, and liberal policy, to one or two native 
princes, whom, from some ill-luck, the English 
governors wished to keep in ignorance and 
darkness. I was for ever entangled in the inti- 
macy, and driven to try to serve the oppressed ; 
while the affection I excited was considered 
disaffection on my part to the rulers. Some- 
times also I met with ingratitude and treachery : 
my actions were misrepresented, either by pre- 



216 FALKNER. 

judice or malice ; and my situation, of a subor- 
dinate officer, without fortune, gave to the in- 
fluence I acquired, through learning the lan- 
guage and respecting the habits and feelings of 
the natives, an air of something so inexplicable, 
as might, in the dark ages, have been attri- 
buted to witchcraft, and in these enlightened 
times was considered a tendency to the most 
dangerous intrigues. Having saved an old 
rajah's life, and having taken great pains to 
extricate him from a difficulty in which the 
Europeans had purposely entangled him, it 
became rumoured that I aspired to succeed to 
a native principality, and I was peremptorily 
ordered off to another station. My views were 
in diametrical opposition to the then Indian 
government. My conversation was heedless 
— my youthful imagination exalted by native 
magnificence ; I own I often dreamt of the 
practicability of driving the merchant sove- 
reigns from Hindostan. There was, as is the 
essence of my character, much boyish folly 



FALKNER. 217 

joined to dangerous passion ; all of which 
took the guise in my own heart of that high 
heroic adventure with which I longed to 
adorn my life- A subaltern in the Company's 
service, I could never gain my Alithea, or do 
her the honour with which T longed to crown 
her. The acquisition of power, of influence, 
of station, would exalt me in her father's 
eyes — so much of what was selfish mingled 
in my conduct — but I was too young and im- 
petuous to succeed. Those in power watched 
me narrowly. The elevation of a day was 
always followed by a quick transfer to an 
unknown and distant province. 

" In all my wildest schemes the thought of 
Alithea reigned paramount. My only object 
was to prove mvself worthy of her; and my 
only dream for the future was to make her 
mine for ever. 

"A constancy often years, strung perpetually 
up to the height of passion, may appear im- 
probable ; yet it was so. It was my nature to 

VOL. II. L 



2J8 FALKNEE. 

hold an object with tenacious grasp— to show 
a proud contempt of obstacles — to resolve on 
ultimate triumph. Besides this, the idea of 
Alithea was so kneaded up and incorporate 
with my being, that my living heart must 
have been searched and anatomized to its core, 
before the portion belonging to her could 
have been divided from the rest. I disdained 
the thought of every other woman. It was 
my pride to look coldly on every charm, and to 
shut my heart against all but Alithea. During 
the first years of my residence in India, I often 
wrote to her, and pouring out my soul on 
paper, I conjured her to preserve herself for 
me. I told her how each solitary jungle or 
mountain ravine spoke to me of a secluded 
home with her ; how every palace and gor- 
geous hall seemed yet a shrine too humble for 
her. The very soul of passion breathed along 
the lines I traced— they were such as an 
affianced lover would have written, pure in 
their tenderness ; but heart-felt, penetrating, 



FALKNER. 219 

and eloquent; they were my dearest comfort. 
After long, wearisome marches — after the 
dangers of an assault or a skirmish — after a 
day spent among the sick or dying — in the 
midst of many disappointments and harassing 
cares ; during the storms of pride and the 
languor of despair, it was my consolation to 
fly to her image and to recall the tender 
happiness of reunion — to endeavour to convey 
to her how she was my hope and aim — my 
fountain in the desert, the shadowy tree to 
shelter me from the burning sun — the soft 
breeze to refresh me — the angelic visitor to 
the unfortunate martyr. Not one of these 
letters ever reached her — her father destroyed 
them all : on his head be the crime and the 
remorse of his daughter's death! Fool and 
coward! would I shift to other shoulders the 
heavy weight? No! no! crime and remorse 
still link me to her. Let them eat into my 
frame with fiery torture ; they are better than 
forgetfulness ! 

l2 



220 FALKNER. 

" I had two hopes in India: one was, to 
raise myself to such a station as would render 
me worthy of Alithea in the eyes of Captain 
Rivers ; the other, to return to England — to 
find change there — to find love in her heart — 
and to move her to quit all for me. By turns 
these two dreams reigned over me ; I indulged 
in them with complacency — I returned to 
them with ardour — I nourished them with 
perseverance. I never saw a young Indian 
mother with her infant but my soul dissolved 
in tender fancies of domestic union and bliss 
with Alithea. There was something in her soft, 
dark eye, and in the turn of her countenance, 
purely eastern ; and many a lovely, half-veiled 
face I could have taken for hers; many a 
slight, symmetrical figure, round, elegant and 
delicate, seemed her own, as, with elastic un- 
dulating motion, they passed on their way to 
temple or feast. I cultivated all these fancies ; 
they nourished my fidelity, and made the 
thought of her the absolute law of my life. 



FALKNER. 221 

" Ten years passed, and then news came 
that altered my whole situation. My uncle 
and his only son died ; the family estate de- 
volved on me, I was rich and free. Rich in 
my own eyes, and in the eyes of all to whom 
competency is wealth. I felt sure that, with 
this inheritance, Captain Rivers would not 
disdain me for his child. I gave up my com- 
mission immediately, and returned to England. 

" England and Alithea !. How balmy, how 
ineffably sweet was the idea of once more be- 
holding the rural spot where she resided ; of 
treading the woodland paths with her — of 
visiting her dear mother's grave — of renewing 
our old associations, and knitting our destinies 
inextricably in one. It was a voyage of bliss. 
I longed for its conclusion ; but feeling that a 
pathway was stretched across the ocean, lead- 
ing even into her very presence, I blessed each 
wave or tract of azure sea we passed over. The 
limitless Atlantic was my road to her, and 
became glorified as the vision of the Hebrew 



222 FALKNER. 

shepherd boy ; and yet loved, with the same 
home-felt sweetness as that with which I 
used to regard the lime-tree walk that led to 
her garden-gate. I forgot the years that had 
elapsed since we met ; it was with difficulty 
that I forced my imagination to remember 
that I should not find her pale mother beside 
her to sanctify our union. 



FALKNER. 223 



CHAPTER XL 



"On landing in England, I at once set off to 
the far northern county where she resided. I 
arrived at the well-known village ; all looked 
the same ; I recognized the cottages and their 
flower-gardens, and even some of the elder 
inhabitants, looking, methought, no older than 
when I left them. My heart hailed my return 
home with rapture, and I quickened my steps 
towards the cottage. It was shut up and 
abandoned. This was the first check my san- 
guine spirit had met. Hitherto I had not 
pronounced her name nor asked a question — I 
longed to return, as from a walk, and to find 



224 FALKNER. 

all things as I had left it. Living in a dream, 
I had not considered the chances and the 
storms, or even the mere changes, of the sea- 
sons of life. 

"My pen lags in its task — I dilate on things 
best hurried over, yet they serve as a screen 
between me and fate. A few inquiries re- 
vealed the truth. Captain Rivers was dead — 
his daughter married. I had lived in a fool's 
paradise. None of the obstacles existed that 
I expected to meet and conquer, but in their 
stead a fourfold brazen door had risen, locked, 
barred and guarded, and I could not even 
shake a hinge, or put back a bolt. 

" I hurried from the fatal spot; it became a 
hell to me. And oh, to think that I had lived 
in vain — vainly dreamt of the angel of my ido- 
latry, vainly hoped — and most vainly loved ; 
called her mine when another held her, sold 
myself to perpetual slavery to her shadow, 
while her living image enriched the shrine of 
another's home ! The tempest that shook my 
soul did not permit me to give form, or indeed 



FALKNER. 225 

to dwell consecutively on such desolating 
thoughts. As a man who arrives from a plea- 
sant journey, and turns the corner where he ex- 
pects to view the dwelling in which repose his 
wife, his children — all dear to him — and when 
he gains the desired spot, beholds it smoulder- 
ing in ashes, and is told that all are consumed, 
and that their bones lie beneath the ruins ; thus 
was I — my imagination had created home, and 
bride, and fair beings sprung from her side, 
who called me father, and one word defaced 
my whole future life and widowed me for ever. 

" Now began that chain of incidents that led 
to a deed I had not thought of. Incidents or 
accidents ; acts, done I know not why ; nothing 
in themselves ; but meeting, and kindled by the 
fiery spirit that raged in my bosom, they gave 
such direction to its ruinous powers, as pro- 
duced the tragedy for ever to be deplored. 

" Bewildered and overwhelmed by the loss 
which to me had all the novelty and keenness 
of a disaster of yesterday, though I found that 

l3 



226 FALKNER. 

many years had gone by, since, in reality, it was 
completed, I fled from the spot I had so fondly 
sought, and hurried up to London on no fixed 
errand, with no determined idea, yet vaguely 
desiring to do something. Scarcely arrived, I 
met a man whom I had known in India. He 
asked me to dine with him, and I complied ; 
because to refuse would have required expla- 
nation, and the affirmative was more easily 
given. I did not mean to keep my engagement ; 
yet when the hour came, so intolerable had I 
become to myself — so poignant and loathsome 
were my thoughts — that I went, so to lose for 
a few moments the present sense of ill. It was 
a bachelor's dinner, and there were in addition 
to myself three or four other guests — among 
them a Mr. Neville. From the moment this 
man opened his lips to speak, I took a violent 
dislike to him. He was, and always must 
have been, the man whom among ten thou- 
sand I should have marked out to abhor. He 
was cold, proud, and sarcastic, withal a de- 



FALKNER. 227 

cayed dandy, turned cynic — who, half despis- 
ing himself, tried wholly to disdain his fellow 
creatures. A man whose bosom never glowed 
with a generous emotion, and who took pride 
in the sagacity which enabled him. to detect 
worms and corruption in the loveliness of vir- 
tue. A poor, mean-spirited fellow, despite his 
haughty outside ; and then when he spoke of 
women, how base a thing he seemed ! his disbe- 
lief in their excellence, his contemptuous pity, 
his insulting love, made my blood boil. To me 
there was something sacred in a woman's very 
shadow. Was she evil, I regarded her with 
the pious regret with which I might view a 
shrine desecrated by sacrilegious hands — the 
odour of sanctity still floated around the rifled 
altar ; I never could regard them as mere fel- 
low-creatures — they were beings of a better 
species, sometimes gone astray in the world's 
wilderness, but always elevated above the best 
among us. For Alithea's sake I respected 
every woman. How much good I knew of them ! 



228 FALKNER. 

Generous, devoted, delicate — their very faults 
were but misdirected virtues ; and this animal 
dared revile beings of whose very nature he 
could form no conception. A burthen was 
lifted from mv soul when he left us. 

" ' It is strange,' said our host, ' that Neville 
should indulge in this kind of talk ; he is mar- 
ried to the most beautiful, and the best woman 
in the world. Much younger than himself, 
she yet performs her duties as a wife with 
steadiness and cheerfulness ; lovely beyond 
her sex, she h without its weakness ; to please 
some jealous freak of his, she has withdrawn 
herself from the world, and buried herself alive 
at his seat in the North. How she can en- 
dure an eternal tete-a-tete with that empty, 
conceited, and arrogant husband of her c is 
beyond any guessing.' 

" I made some observation expressive of my 
abhorrence of Mr. Neville's character, and my 
friend continued — 'Disagreeable and shallow as 
he is, one would have thought that the society 



FALKNER. 229 

of so superior j so perfect a woman, would have 
reconciled him to her sex, but I verily believe 
he is jealous of her surpassing excellence ; and 
that it is not so much a natural, and I might 
almost call it generous, fear of losing her affec- 
tions, as a dislike of seeing her admired, and 
knowing that she is preferred to him, espe- 
cially now that he absolutely looks an old 
fellow. Poor Alithea Rivers — hers is a hard 
fate!' 

" I had a glass of wine in my hand; my 
convulsive grasp shivered the brittle thing, but 
I gave no other outward sign ; before, I was 
miserable, I had lost all that made life dear ; 
but to know that she was lost to herself, 
bound for life to a human brute, curdled my 
heart's blood, and spread an unnatural chilli- 
ness through my frame. 

"What a sacrifice was there ! a sacrifice of 
how much more than life, of the heart's 
sweetest feelings, when a spirit, sent to 
gladden the world, and cast one drop of 



230 FALKNER. 

celestial nectar into the bitterness of existence, 
was made garbage for that detested animal ; 
from that moment, from the moment I felt 
assured that I had seen Alithea's husband, 
something departed from the world, such as 
I had once known it, never to return again. 
A sense of acquiescence in the decrees of 
Providence, of confidence in the benevolence 
and beauty of the universe, of pride, despite 
all my misfortunes, in being man, of pleasure 
in the loveliness of nature, all departed ! I 
had lost her — that was nothing ; it was my 
disaster, but did not injure the order and 
grace of the creation ; she was, I fondly 
trusted, married to a better man than I ; but, 
bound to that grovelling and loathsome type 
of the world's worst qualities, the devil 
usurped at once the throne of God, and life 
became a hell. 

" ' You are miserable, Alithea ! you must be 
miserable ! For you there is no sympathy, no 
mingling of hearts, no generous confidence in 



FALKNER. 231 

another's esteem and kindness, no indulgence 
in golden imaginations of the beauty of life. 
You are tied to a foul, corrupting corpse. You 
are cut off from the dear associations of the 
social hearth, from the dignified sense of 
having exchanged virgin purity for a sweeter 
and more valuable possession in another's 
heart ; coldly and listlessly you look on the 
day which brings no hope to you, if, indeed, 
you do not rave and blaspheme in your despair. 
Oh ! with me, the brother of your soul, your 
servant, lover, untiring friend, how differently 
had your lot been cast !' 

"I rushed from my friend's house; I entered 
no roof that night ; my passions were awake, 
my fierce, volcanic passions ! Had I encoun- 
tered Neville, I had assuredly murdered him ; 
my soul was chaos, yet a tempestuous ray gave 
a dark light amidst the storm; a glimmering, 
yet permanent irradiation mantled over the 
ruins among which I stood. I said to myself, 
f I am mad, driven to desperation;' but, 



232 FALKNER. 

beneath this outward garb of my thought, I 
knew and recognized an interior form. I knew 
what I desired, what I intended, and what, 
though I tried to cheat myself into the belief 
that I wavered, I henceforth steadily pursued. 
There is, perhaps, no more dangerous mood 
of mind than when we doggedly pursue means, 
recklessly uncertain of their end. 

" Thus was I led to the fatal hour ; a life of 
love, and a sudden bereavement, with such a 
thing the instrument of my ruin ! A contempt 
for the order of the universe, a stern demo- 
niacal braving of fate, because I would rule, 
and put that right which God had let go 
wrong. Oh, let me not again blaspheme. 
God made the stars, and the green earth, 
within whose bosom Alithea lies. She also is 
his, and I will believe, despite the hellish 
interference that tainted and deflowered her 
earthly life, that now she is with the source 
of all good, reaping the reward of her virtues, 
the compensation for her suffering. Else, 



FALKNER. 233 

why are we created? To crawl forth, to suffer 
and die? I cannot believe it. Spirit of the 
blest, omnipotence did not form perfection to 
shatter and dissipate the elements like broken 
glass ! But I rave and wander ; Alithea still 
lives and suffers at the time of which I write, 
and I, erecting myself into a providence, 
resolved to put that right which was wrong, 
and cure the world's misrule. From that 
moment I never paused or looked back ; I 
set my soul upon the cast, and I am here. 
And Alithea ! her mysterious grave you shall 
now approach. 

" Bent upon a dangerous purpose, fate led 
before me an instrument, without which I 
should have found it difficult to execute my 
plan. I got a letter from a man in great 
distress, asking for some small help ; he was 
on the point of quitting England for America, 
and working his passage; slight assistance 
would be of inestimable benefit in furthering 
his plans. The petitioner followed his petition 



234 FALKNER. 

quickly, and was ushered in before me. 1 
scrutinized his shrewd, yet down-looking 
countenance ; I scanned his supple, yet uncer- 
tain carriage ; I felt that he was a coward, yet 
knew he would tamper with roguery, in all 
safety, for a due reward. I had known the 
fellow in India; James Osborne was his name; 
he dabbled in various disreputable money 
transactions, both with natives and English- 
men, and at last, having excited the suspicion 
of government, got thrown into prison. He 
had then written to me, who was considered a 
sort of refuge for the destitute, and I went to 
see him. There was no great harm in the 
man ; on the contrary, he was soft-hearted 
and humane; the infection of dishonesty, 
caught in bad company, and fostered in 
poverty, was his ruin ; and he joined to this a 
strong desire to be respectable, if he could 
only contrive to subsist without double-dealing. 
I thought, that by extricating him from his 
embarrassments, and removing him from 



FALKNER. 235 

temptation, I might save him from ignominy ; 
so I paid his passage to England; where he 
told me that he had friends and resources. 
But his old habits pursued him, and even now, 
though poverty was the alleged motive for his 
emigration, I saw that there was secret fear of 
legal pursuit for dishonest practices ; he had 
been inveigled, he said, to lend his name to 
a transaction which turned out a knavish one. 
With all this, Osborne was not a villain, and 
scarcely a rogue ; there was truth in what 
he said ; he had always an aspiration for a 
better place in society, but he saw no way of 
attaining it except by money, and no way of 
gaining money except by cheating. 

" I listened to his story. ' You are an in- 
corrigible fellow,' said I. * How can I give ear 
to your promises ? Still I am willing to assist 
you. I am myself going to America ; you 
shall accompany me.' By degrees I after- 
wards explained the service I needed ; yet I 
only half disclosed the truth. Osborne never 



236 FALKNER. 

knew the name or position of the lady who 
was to be my companion across the Atlantic. 
A man's notions of the conduct of others are 
always coloured by his own ruling passion. 
Osborne thought I was intent on carrying off 
an heiress. 

" With this ally I proceeded to Cumber- 
land — my mind more intent on the result of 
my schemes than their intermediate detail. 
I learned before I went that Mr. Neville was 
still in town. This was a golden opportunity, 
and I hastened to use it. I reached the spot that 
Alithea inhabited — I entered the outer gate of 
the demesne — I rode up to the avenue that 
led to the house — I was ushered into the 
room where I knew that I should find her. 
I summoned every power to calm the throb- 
bing of my heart. I expected to find her 
changed ; but when I saw her, I discovered 
no alteration. It was strange that so much 
of girlish appearance should remain. Her 
figure was light and airy ; her rich clustering 



FALKNER. 237 

ringlets abundant as before ; her face — it was 
Alithea! All herself ! That soft, loving eye 
— that clear brow — -those music-breathing lips 
— time had not harmed her— it was herself. 

" She did not at once recognize me; the 
beardless stripling was become a weather- 
beaten, thought- worn man : but when I told 
her who I was — the name so long forgotten — - 
never heard since last she spoke it, ' Rupert!' 
burst from her lips— it united our severed 
lives ; and her look of rapture, her accent all 
breathless with joy, told me that her heart 
was still the same — ardent, affectionate, and 
true. 

"'We sat together, hand linked in hand, 
looking at each other with undisguised delight. 
At first, with satanic cunning, I assumed the 
brother's part. I questioned her concerning 
her fate — her feelings; and seeing that she 
was averse to confess the truth of her dis- 
appointed, joyless married state, I led her 
back to past days. I spoke of her dear mother. 



238 FALKNER. 

I said that often had the image of that pale, 
wise spirit checked, guided, and whispered 
sage lessons to me in my banishment. I recalled 
a thousand scenes of our childhood, when we 
wandered together — hand in hand — heart 
linked to heart — confiding every pain — avow- 
ing every wild or rebellious thought, or discuss- 
ing the mighty secrets of nature and of fate, 
which to our young hearts were full of awe 
and mystery, and yet of beauty and joy. As 
I spoke, I examined her more narrowly. At 
first she had appeared to me the same ; now I 
marked a difference. Her mouth, the home 
of smiles, had ever its sweet, benignant ex- 
pression ; but her eyes, there was a heaviness 
in the lids, a liquid melancholy in their gaze, 
which said that they were acquainted with 
tears ; her cheeks, once round, peachlike, and 
downy, were not fallen, yet they had lost 
their rich fulness. She was more beautiful ; 
there was more reflection, more sentiment in 
her face ; but there was far, far less happi- 



PALKNER. J 239 

ness. Before, smiles sprung up wherever she 
turned to gaze ; now, an interest akin to pity 
and tears made the spectator's heart ache as 
he watched the turns of a countenance which 
was the faithful mirror of the truest heart 
that ever beat. Worse than this, there ever 
and anon shot across her face a look that 
seemed like fear. Oh, how unlike the trust- 
ing, dreadless Alithea! 

" My talk of other days at first soothed, then 
excited, and threw her off her guard. By de- 
grees I approached the object of all my talk, 
and drew her to speak of her father, and the 
motives that induced her marriage. My know- 
ledge and vivid recollections of all that belong- 
ed to her, made her unawares speak, as she 
had not done since we parted, the undisguised 
truth ; and before she knew what she had 
said, I had led her to confess that she had 
never loved her husband ; that she found no 
sympathy, and little kindness in him ; that 
her life had been one of endurance of faults 



240 FALKNER. 

alien to her own temperament. Had I been 
more cautious, I had allowed this to pass off 
at first, and won her entire confidence before 
I laid bare my own thoughts ; for all she said 
had never before been breathed into any living 
ear but mine. It was her principle to submit, 
and to hide her sense of her husband's defec- 
tive disposition ; and had I not, with a ser- 
pent's subtlety, glided on imperceptibly ; had 
I not brought forward her mother's name, and 
the memory of childhood's cloudless years, 
she had been mute with me. But now I could 
contain myself no longer. I told her that I 
had seen the miserable being to whom she 
was linked. I uttered curses on the fate that 
had joined them together. She laid her hand 
on my arm, and looking in my face with con- 
fiding innocence, ■ Hush, Rupert,' she said, 
* you make me mean more than I would will- 
ingly have you think. He is not unkind ; I 
have no right to complain ; it is not in every 
man that we can find a brother's or a friend's 



FALKNER. 241 

heart. Neville does not understand these 
things ; but he is my husband ; as such I 
honour him.' 

" I saw the internal feeling that led her to 
speak thus ; I saw the delicate forbearance 
that filled her noble mind. She thought of 
her virgin faith plighted — long years spent at 
his side — her children — her fidelity, which, if 
it had ceased to cling to him, had never wan- 
dered, even in thought, to another ; duties ex- 
emplarily fulfilled — earnest strivings to forget 
his worthlessness. All this honour for her 
own pure nature, she cheated herself into 
believing was honour paid to him. I resolved 
to tear the veil which her gentleness and 
sense of right had drawn before the truth, 
and I exclaimed, impetuously, ' Wrong your- 
self not so much ! dear girl ; do not fancy that 
your high soul can really bow down to base- 
ness. You pay reverence to your own sense of 
duty; but you hate — you must hate that man.' 

" She started, and her face and neck be- 

VOL. II. m 



242 FALKNER. 

came dyed in blushes, proceeding half from 
anger at being urged beyond her wish, half 
from native modesty at hearing her husband 
thus spoken of. As for myself, I grew mad 
as I looked on her, and felt the sweet, trans- 
porting influences that gathered round ; here 
indeed was the creature whom I had loved 
through so many years, who was mine in my 
dreams, whose faith and true affection I fan- 
cied I held for ever ; and she was torn from 
me, given away, not to one who, like me, 
knew and felt her matchless excellence, but 
to a base-minded thing, from whom she must 
shrink as from an animal of another species. 
All that her soul contained of elevated thought 
and celestial aspirations, all of generous, high, 
and heroic, that warmed her heart, what were 
they before a blind, creeping worm, who held 
a matchless jewel in his hand, and deemed 
it dross ? He even could not understand, or 
share the more sober affections — mutual trust 
and mutual forbearance ; the utterance of love, 



FALKNER. 



243 



the caresses of tenderness, what were these to 
a wretch who saw baseness and deceit in the 
most lofty and pure feelings of a woman's 
heart ? 

" I expressed these thoughts, or rather, they 
burst from me. She interrupted me. ' I do 
not deny,' she said, ' for I know not how you 
have cheated me of my secret, but that repin- 
ings have at times entered my mind ; and I 
have shed foolish tears, to think that the 
dreams of my girlhood were as a bright morn- 
ing, quickly followed by a dim, cloudy day. 
But I have reproved myself for this discon- 
tent, and you do very wrong to revive it ; the 
heart will rebel, but religion, and philosophy, 
and the very tears I shed, soothe its ruffled 
mood, and make me remember that we do not 
live to be happy, but to perform our duties ; 
to fulfil mine is the aim of my life ; teach me 
how to do that more completely, more entirely 
to resign myself, and you will be my benefac- 
tor. It is true that my husband does not 

m 2 



244 FALKNER. 

understand the childish overflowings of my 
heart, which is too ready to seek its joys among 
the clouds ; he does not dwell with rapture on 
the thoughts and sentiments which give me so 
much life and happiness — his is a stronger, and 
sterner nature ; a slower one also, I acknow- 
ledge, one less ready to sympathize and feel. 
But if I have in my intercourse with him re- 
gretted that lively, cheering interchange of 
sentiment which I enjoyed with you — you are 
now here to bestow it, and my life, hitherto 
defective, your return may render complete.' 

" I laughed bitterly. ' Poor innocent bird,' 
1 cried ; ' think you at once to be free, and in 
a cage ? at once to feel the fowler's grasp, and 
fly away to heaven ? Alithea, you miserably 
deceive yourself; hitherto you have but half 
guessed the secrets of a base grovelling spirit 
— have you never seen your husband jealous?' 

" She shuddered — and I saw a spasm of 
exquisite pain cloud her features as she averted 
her head from me, and the look of trembling 



FALKNER. 245 

fear I had before remarked, crept over her. 
I was shocked to see so much of the slave 
had entered her soul. I told her this ; I told 
her she was being degraded by the very duties 
which she was devoting herself, body and soul, 
to perform ; I told her that she must be free ; 
she looked wonderingly, but I continued. ' Is 
not the very name of liberty dear and exhila- 
rating, does it not draw you irresistibly on- 
wards, is not the very thought of casting your 
heavy chains from off you, full of new and 
inexpressible joy? Poor prisoner, do you not 
yearn to breathe without a fear ; would you 
not with transport escape from your jailor to 
a home of love and freedom V 

"Hitherto she had fancied that I but re- 
gretted her sorrows as she did, and repined 
as she did over a fate whose real misery she 
alone could entirely feel ; she repented having 
spoken so openly — yet she loved me for my 
unfeigned sympathy ; but now she saw that 
something more was meant, she looked ear- 



246 FALKNER. 

nestly at me, as if to read my heart ; she saw 
its wishes in my eyes, and shrunk from them 
as from a snake, as she exclaimed, ' Never, 
dear Rupert, speak thus to me again, or we 
must again part — I have a son.' 

"The radiance of angelic love lighted up 
her face as she uttered these words ; and then, 
my error and weakness being her strength, 
she resumed the self-possession she had lost 
during our previous conversation ; with be- 
witching grace she held out her hand to me, 
and in a voice modulated by the soul of per- 
suasion, said, 'Let us be friends, Rupert, such 
as we once were, brother and sister ; I will not 
believe that you are returned only to pain and 
injure me — I am happy in my children — stay 
but a little, and you will see how foolish I 
have been to complain at all. You also will 
love my boy/ 

"Would you not think that these words had 
sufficed to cure my madness, and banish every 
guilty project? Had you seen her, her inimi- 



FALKNER. 247 

table grace of attitude, the blushing, tender 
expression of her face, and her modest earnest 
manner, a manner which spoke the maternal 
nature, such as Catholics imagine it, without 
a tincture of the wife, a girlish, yet enthusi- 
astic rapture at the very thought of her child, 
you would have known that every scheme I 
meditated was riveted faster, every desire to 
make her my own for ever, more fixed and 
eager. I went on to urge her, till I saw every 
feature give token of distress ; and at last she 
suddenly left me, as if unable any longer to 
bear my pertinacity. She left me without a 
word, but I saw her face bathed in tears. I 
was indeed insane. These tears, which sprung 
from anguish of soul to think that her child- 
hood's companion should thus show himself 
an injurer instead of a friend, I interpreted 
into signs of relenting — into a struggle with 
her heart. 









248 FALKNER. 

CHAPTER XII. 

" I called again the following morning, 
but she was denied to me ; twice this hap- 
pened. She feared me, I believed; and still 
more franticly I was driven to continue my 
persecutions. I wrote to her ; she did not an- 
swer my letters. I entered the grounds of her 
house clandestinely ; I lay in wait for her ; I 
resolved to see her again. At length, one 
afternoon I found her alone, walking and 
musing in the more solitary part of the park ; 
I stood suddenly before her, and her first 
emotion was pleasure, so true was she to her 



FALKNER. 



i 
249 



affections, so constant to her hope that at 
last I should be persuaded not to pain her 
by a renewal of my former conversation. But 
I believed that I had a hold on her that 
I would not forego. When she offered to re- 
new our childhood's compact of friendship, 
I asked her how that could be if she re- 
fused me her confidence; I asked how she 
could promise me happiness, whose every 
hope was blighted. I told her that it was my 
firm conviction that her mother had intended 
us for one another, that she had brought her 
up for me, given her to me, and that thus she 
was indeed mine. Her eyes flashed fire at 
this. ' My mother,' she said, ' brought me up 
for a higher purpose than even conducing to 
your happiness. She brought me up to fulfil 
my duties, to be a mother in my turn. I do 
not deny,' she continued, f that I share in some 
sort my mother's fate, and am more maternal 
than wife-like ; and as I fondly wish to re- 
semble her in all her virtues, I will not repine 

m 3 



250 FALKNER. 

at the circumstances that lead me rather to 
devote my existence to my children, than to be 
that most blessed creature, a happy wife — I 
do not ask for that happiness, I am contented 
with my lot ; my very girlish, romantic repin- 
ings do not really make me unhappy.' 

" ' Nor your fears, nor his base jealousy, 
his selfishness, his narrow soul, and brutish 
violence? I know more than you think, Ali- 
thea — I read your heart — you must be miser- 
able, submissive, yet tyrannized over ; wedded 
to your duty, yet watched, suspected, accused. 
There are traces of tears on your cheeks, my 
poor girl ; your neck is bowed by the yoke, 
your eyes have no longer the radiance of con- 
scious rectitude, and yet you are innocent.' 

" ' God knows I am,' she replied, as a 
shower of tears fell from her eyes — but she 
was ashamed, and brushed them away — ' I am, 
and will be, Rupert, though you would mislead 
me. Where indeed can I find a conscious- 
ness of rectitude, except in my heart ? My 



FALKNER. 251 

husband mistrusts me, I acknowledge it — by 
torture you force the truth — he does not un- 
derstand, and you would pervert me ; in God 
and my own heart I put my trust, and I will 
never do that which my conscience tells me 
is wrong — and despite both I shall be happy. 
A mother is, in my eyes, a more sacred name 
than wife. My life is wrapped in my boy, in 
him I find blameless joy, though all the rest 
pierce my heart with poisoned arrows.' 

" ' You shall, sweet Alithea,' I cried, ' pre- 
serve him, and every other blessing. You 
were not born to inherit this maimed, poverty- 
stricken life, the widowed mother of an orphan 
child, such are you now ; I will be a father to 
him for your sake, and many other joys will 
be yours, and the fondest, truest heart that 
ever warmed man's bosom shall be all your 
own. Alithea, you must not offer yourself up 
a living sacrifice to that base idol, but belong- 
to one whose love, and honour, and eternal 
devotion merit you, though he possess no 



252 FALKNER. 

other claim. Let me save you from him, I 
ask no more.' 

" I felt a tear, for many long years forgotten, 
steal down my cheek — my heart worshipped 
her excellence, and pity, and grief, mingled 
with my deep regrets ; she saw how sincerely 
I was moved, and tried to comfort me. She 
wept also, for, despite her steadier thoughts, 
she knew the cruelty of her destiny, and I do 
believe her heart yearned to taste, once more 
before she died, the full joy of complete 
sympathy. But, if indeed her tears were 
partly shed for herself, yet she never wavered ; 
she deplored my unhappiness, but she re- 
proved my perversion of principle ; she tried 
to awaken patience, piety, or philosophic for- 
titude — any of the noble virtues that might 
enable me to combat the passion by which I 
was enslaved. 

" Time was forgotten as we thus talked with 
the same openness of heart as in former days, 
yet those hearts how saddened, and wounded 



FALKNER. 253 

since then ! I would not let her go : while the 
moon rose high, shedding its silvery light 
over the forest trees, and casting dark shadows 
on our path, still we indulged in what she 
deemed our last conference. As I must an- 
swer my crimes before God, I swear I could 
discern no wavering thought, no one idea that 
strayed to the forbidden ground, toward which 
I strove to lead her. She told me that she 
had intended not to see me again till her hus- 
band returned ; she said that she must implore 
me not again to seek her in this way, or I 
should make her a prisoner in her house. I 
listened — I answered, I knew not what — I 
was more resolved than ever not to lose her — 
despite all, I still was mad enough to hope. 
She left me at last, hoping to have conquered, 
yet resolved not to see me again, she said, till 
her husband returned. This determination on 
her part was in absolute contradiction to what 
I resolved should be. I had decreed to see her 
again ; nay, more, I would see her, not within 



254 FALKNER. 

the precincts of her home, where all spoke 
against me ; but where she should be free, 
where, seeing nothing to remind her of the 
heavy yoke to which she bent her neck, I 
fondly dreamed I might induce her wholly to 
throw it aside. If it so pleased her, I would 
detain her but a few short hours, and restore 
her to her home in all liberty ; but, could I 
induce her to assert her freedom, and follow 
me voluntarily — then — to think that possible, 
the earth reeled under me, and my passion 
gained strength from its very folly. 

" I prepared all things for my plan; I went 
to Liverpool, and bought two fleet horses and 
a light foreign caleche suited to my purpose. 
Returning northward towards Dromore, I 
sought a solitary spot, for the scene of our 
last interview, or of the first hour of my lasting 
bliss. What more solitary than the wild and 
drear sea shore of the south of Cumberland ? 
Landward it is screened by a sublime back- 
ground of mountains ; but in itself presenting 



FALKNER. 255 

to the view a wide extent of uninhabited sands, 
intersected by rivers, which when the tide is 
up presents a dreary expanse of shallow water, 
and at ebb are left, except in the channels 
of the rivers, a barren extent of mud and 
marsh ; the surrounding waste being variegated 
only by a line of sand hills thrown up to the 
height of thirty or forty feet, shutting in the 
view from shore, while seaward no boat ap- 
peared ever to spread its sail on that lonely 
sea. On these sands, near the mouth of one 
of the rivers, there was a small hut deserted, 
but not in ruins ; it was probably occasionally 
inhabited by guides who are used in this part 
of the country, to show the track of the fords 
when the tide is full, and any deviation from 
the right path is attended by peril, the beds 
of the rivers being full of ruts and deep holes ; 
that hut I selected as the spot where all should 
be determined. If she consented to accom- 
pany me, we would proceed rapidly forward 
to Liverpool, and embark for America ; if she 



256 FALKNER. 

resolved to return, this spot was but five miles 
from her home, and I could easily lead her 
back without suspicion being excited. I was 
anxious to put my scheme in execution, as her 
husband was shortly expected. 

" It seemed a feasible one. In my own 
heart I did not expect to induce her to forsake 
her home ; but I might ; and the very doubt 
maddened me. And if I did not, yet for a few 
hours to have her near me, not in any spot- 
that called her detested husband master, but 
in the wide, free scenes of nature, the ocean, 
parent of all liberty, spread at our feet ; the 
way easy to escape, no eye, no ear, to watch 
and spy out the uncontrolled and genuine 
emotions of her heart, or no hand to check 
our progress if she consented to follow. In 
this plan Osborne, whom I had left at the miser- 
able town of Ravenglass — and who indeed had 
been the man to find and point out to me the 
solitary hut, was necessary. My explanation 
and directions to him were few and peremp- 



FALKNER. 257 

tory : he was to appear with the caleche, he 
acting as postillion, at a certain spot ; the mo- 
ment he saw me arrive, as soon as I had placed 
the lady who was to be my companion in the 
carriage, he was to put spurs to his horses, and 
not by any cry of hers, nor command of mine, 
nor interference of strangers, to be induced to 
stop till he reached the hut : there she should 
be free ; till then I would have her a prisoner 
even beyond my own control, lest her entrea- 
ties should cheat me out of mv resolves. Os- 
borne looked frightened at some portion of 
these orders, but I glossed over any inconsis- 
tency ; my bribe was high, and he submitted. 
"At every step I took in this mad and guilty 
scheme I became more resolved to carry it on. 
Here is my crime — here the tale of sin, I have 
to relate. The rest is disaster and endless 
remorse. What moved me to this height of 
insanity — what blinded me to the senseless, 
as well as the unpardonable nature of my 
design, I cannot tell ; except that, for years, 



258 FALKNER. 

I had lived in a dream, and waking in the real 
world, I refused to accommodate myself to its 
necessities, but resolved to bend its laws to my 
desires. I loved Alithea — I had loved her 
through years of absence ; she was the wife of 
my reveries, my hopes, my heart. I could no 
more part with the thought of her, as such, 
than with a consciousness of my own identity. 
To see her married and a mother might be 
supposed capable of dissipating these fancies ; 
far from it . Her presence — her beauty — the 
witchery of her eye, her heart-subduing 
voice, her sensibility, the perfection of her 
nature, which her inimitable loveliness only 
half expressed, but which reached my soul, 
through a sort of inner sense that acknow- 
ledged it with worship ; all this added to my 
frenzy, and steeped me to the very lips in in- 
toxication. 

" What right had I to call this matchless 
creature mine ? — None ! That I acknowledged 
— but that he, the man without a soul, the 



FALKNER. 259 

incarnate Belial, should claim her, was not 
for a moment to be endured. Mad as I was, 
I aver, and He who reads all hearts be now 
my testimony, that it was more my wish to set 
her free from him, than to bind her to myself, 
that urged me on. I had in the solitary 
shades of her park, during the arguments and 
struggles of our last interview, sworn, that if 
she would suffer me to take her, and her boy 
too if she chose, away from him, I would 
claim no share in her myself. I would place 
her in some romantic spot, build a home worthy 
of her, surrounded with all the glory of nature, 
and only see her as a servant and a slave. I 
pledged my soul to this, and T would have 
kept my oath. Those who have not loved 
may look on this as the very acme of my hal- 
lucination ; it might be — I cannot tell — but so 
it was. 

" All was ready; and I wrote to her to meet 
me for the last time. In this also I was, in one 
sense, sincere; for I had determined, if I should 



260 FALKNER. 

fail in my persuasions, never to see her more. 
She came, but several hours later than I in- 
tended, which, to a certain degree, deranged 
my plans. The weather had a sultriness about 
it all day, portending storm, occasioning a state 
of atmosphere that operates to render the hu- 
man frame uneasy and restless. I paced the 
lane that bounded the demesnes of Dromore, 
for hours ; I threw myself on a grassy bank. 
The rack in the upper sky sped along with 
fearful impetuosity ; it traversed the heavens 
from west to east, driven by a furious wind 
which had not yet descended to us ; for below 
on earth, no breath of air moved the herbage, 
or could be perceived amidst the topmost 
boughs of the trees. Every thing in nature, 
acted upon by these contrary influences, had a 
strange and wild appearance. The sun de- 
scended red towards the ocean before Alithea 
opened the private gate of the grounds, and 
stood in all her loveliness before me. 

" She brought her son with her. At first 



FALKNER. 261 

this annoyed me ; but at a second thought, it 
seemed to render my whole design more con- 
clusive. She had spoken of this child with 
such rapture that it would have been a bar- 
barity beyond my acting to have separated her 
from him. By making him her companion, 
she completed my purpose ; I would take them 
away together. I met her I thought with self- 
possession, but she read the conflict of passion 
in my face, and, half fearful, asked what dis- 
turbed me. I attributed my agitation to our 
approaching parting ; and drawing her hand 
through my arm, walked forward along the 
lane. At the moment of executing my pro- 
ject, its wickedness and cruelty became so 
apparent, that a thousand times I was about 
to confess all, solicit her forgiveness, and 
leave her for ever : but that hardness, which 
in the ancient religions is deemed the imme- 
diate work of God, crept over my heart, 
turning its human misgiving to stony resolu- 
tion. I endeavoured to close every aperture 



262 FALKNER. 

of my soul against the relenting moods that 
assailed me ; yet they came with greater 
power each time, and at length wholly mas- 
tering me, I consented to be subdued. I de- 
termined to relinquish my schemes, to bid 
her an eternal adieu ; and moved by self-pity 
at the desolate lot I was about to encounter, 
I spoke of separation and absence, and the 
death of hope, with such heart-felt pathos, as 
moved her to tears. 

" Surely there is no greater enemy to virtue 
and good intentions, than that want of self- 
command, the exterior of which, though I had 
acquired, no portion existed in the inner sub- 
stance of my mind. Calm, proud, and stern, 
as I seemed to others, capable of governing 
the vehemence of my temper, — within I was 
the same slave of passion I had ever been. I 
never could force myself to do the thing I 
hated ; I never could persuade myself to re- 
linquish the thing I desired. There is the 
secret of my crimes ; there the vice of my 



FALKNEB. 263 

disposition, which produced for her I loved 
a miserable death, and for myself endless, 
unutterable woe. For a moment I had be- 
come virtuous and heroic. We reached the 
end of the lane — my emissary appeared with 
the carriage. I had worked myself up by this 
time to determine to restore her to her home ; 
to part with her for ever. She believed this. 
The despair written on my brow — my sombre, 
mute, yet heart-broken mien — my thoughts, 
which had totally relinquished their favourite 
project, and consented to be widowed of her 
for ever, expressed in brief passionate sen- 
tences, proved to her, who had never sus- 
pected that I meant otherwise, that I took 
my last look, and spoke my last words. We 
reached the end of the lane ; Osborne drove 
up. ' Be not surprised,' I said. ' Yes, it is 
there, Alithea ; the carriage that is to convey 
me far, far away. Gracious God, do I live to 
see this hour !' 



264 FALKNER. 

" The carriage stopped ; we walked up to it. 
A devil at that moment whispered in my ear, 
a devil, who feeds on human crimes and 
groans, prompted my arm. Coward and dolt! 
to use such words — my own hellish mind 
was the sole instigator. In a moment it was 
done. I lifted her light figure into the car- 
riage ; I jumped in after her ; I bade her boy 
follow. It was too late. One cry from him, 
one long, piercing shriek from her, and we 
were gone. With the swiftness of the winds 
we descended the eminence towards the shore, 
and left child and all return far behind. 

" At that moment the storm burst over us; 
but the thunder was unheard amidst the rat- 
tling of the wheels. Even her cries were 
lost in the uproar; but as the thickening 
clouds changed twilight into night, the vivid 
lightning showed me Alithea at my feet, in 
convulsions of fear and anguish. There was 
no help. I raised her in my arms; and she 



FALKNER. 200 

struggled in them without meaning, without 
knowledge. Spasm succeeded to spasm ; I saw 
them by the flashes of the frequent lightning- 
distort her features with agony, but I could 
not even hear her groans ; the furious haste 
at which we went, the thunder from above, the 
plash of the rain, suspended only by the howl- 
ings of the rising wind, drowned every other 
sound. I called to Osborne to stop ; he gave 
no heed to my cries. Methought the horses had 
taken fright, and held the bit in their teeth, 
with such unimaginable speed we swept along. 
The roar of ocean, torn up by the wild west 
wind, now mingled with the universal uproar 
— hell had broken loose upon earth — yet what 
was every other and more noisy tempest com- 
pared to that which shook my soul, as I pressed 
Alitheato my heart in agony, vainly hoping to 
see the colour revisit her cheeks, and her dear 
eyes open! Was she already a corpse? I 
tried to feel her breath upon my cheek ; but 

VOL. II. n 



266 FALKNER. 

the speed of our course, and the uproar of the 
elements, prevented my being able to ascertain 
whether she was alive or dead. And thus 1 
bore her — thus I made her my bride, thus I, 
her worshipper, emptied the vials of pain on 
her beloved head ! 



FALKNER. 



267 



i 



CHAPTER XIII. 



i; At last I became aware that the wheels of the 
carriage passed through water. Hope revived 
with the thought. The hut where Osborne 
was to stop, was to the south of the river we 
were now crossing ; the tide was ebbing, and 
despite the wind and storm, we passed the 
ford in safety; a moment more, and the car- 
riage stopped amidst the sands. I took the 
unfortunate lady in my arms, and carried her 
into the hut ; then fetching the cushions of 
the carriage, I bade Osborne take the horses 
on to a covered shed about half a mile off, 

n2 



268 FALKNER. 

which he had prepared for them, and return 
immediately. 

" I re-entered the hut — still Alithea lay 
motionless on the ground where I had placed 
her. The lightning showed me her pale 
face ; and another flash permitted me to dis- 
cover a portion of luggage brought here by 
Osborne — necessary if we fled. Among other 
things which, soldier-like, I always carried with 
me, I saw my canteen ; it contained the imple- 
ments for striking a light, and tapers. By such 
means I could at last discover that my victim 
still lived ; and sometimes also she groaned 
and sighed heavily. What had happened to 
her I could not tell, nor by what means con- 
sciousness might be restored. I chafed her head 
and hands in spirituous waters ; I made her 
swallow some — in vain. For a moment she 
somewhat revived, but relapsed again; and 
the icy cold of her hands and feet seemed to 
portend instant dissolution. Osborne returned, 
as I had ordered ; he was totally unaware of 



FALKNER. 269 

the state to which my devilish machinations 
had brought my victim. He found me hang- 
ing over her — calling her by every endearing 
name — chafing her hands in mine — watching 
in torture for such signs of returning sense as 
would assure me that I was not about to see 
her expire before my eyes. He was scared by 
what he saw ; but I silenced him, and made 
him light a fire — and heat sand, which I placed 
at her feet ; and then by degrees, with help of 
large doses of sal-volatile and other drugs, cir- 
culation was restored. She opened her eyes 
and gazed wildly round, and tears gushed from 
under the lids in large, slow drops. My soul 
blessed God ! Every mad desire and guilty 
scheme had faded before the expectation of 
her death. All I asked of Heaven was her life, 
and leave to restore her to her child and her 
home. Heaven granted, as I thought, my 
prayer. The livid streaks which had settled 
round her mouth and eyes disappeared; her 
features lost the rigidity of convulsions, a slight 



270 FALKNER. 

colour tinged her cheeks ; her hands, late 
chill and stiff, now had warmth, and voluntary 
motions of their own. Once or twice she 
looked round and tried to speak. ' Gerard !' 
that word, the name of her boy, was murmured ; 
I caught the sound as I bent eagerly over her. 
'He is safe — he is well,' I whispered. 'All is 
well ; be comforted, Alithea.' The poor victim 
smiled ; yes, her own sweet smile dawned upon 
her face. ' She too is safe,' I thought. Once 
again I felt my heart beat freely and at ease. 

" She continued however in a state of torpor. 
There were two rooms in the hut. I prepared 
a sort of couch for her in the inner one. I 
placed her on it ; I covered her with her cloak. 
By degrees the sort of insensibility in which 
she sunk changed to sleep. We left her then, 
and sat watching in the outer room. I kept 
my eyes fixed on her, and saw that each hour 
added to the tranquillity of her repose ; I could 
not hear her breathe ; for though the thunder 
and rain had ceased, the wind howled and the 



FALKNER. 271 

near ocean roared ; its billows, driven by the 
western gale, encroached upon the sands almost 
to the threshold of the hut. 

"A revulsion had taken place within me ; I felt 
that there was something dearer to me than the 
fulfilment of my schemes, which was her life. 
She appeared almost miraculously restored, 
and my softened heart thanked God and 
blessed her. I believed I could be happy even 
in eternal absence, now that the guilt of her 
death was taken from my soul. Well do I re- 
member the kind of rapture that flowed in upon 
my heart, as at dawn of day I crept noiselessly 
to her side, and marked the regular heaving 
of her bosom ; and saw her eye-lids, heavy 
and dark with suffering, it is true, yet gently 
closed over the dear orbs which again and for 
many a long year would enjoy the light of 
day. I felt a new man, I felt happy. In a few 
short hours I should receive her pardon — con- 
vey her home — declare my own guilt; and 
while absolving her, offer myself as the mark 



272 FALKNER. 

of whatever vengeance her husband might 
choose to take. Me ! — Oh, what was I ? I 
had no being ; it was dissolved into a mere 
yearning for her life — her contentment. I 
was about to render myself up as a criminal 
to a man whose most generous act would be to 
meet me in the field ; but that was nothing : 
I thought not of it, either with gladness or 
regret. She lives — she shall be restored to 
all she loves — she once again will be at peace. 
"These were my dreams as I hung over her, 
and gradually the break of day became more 
decided ; by the increasing light I could per- 
ceive that I had not deceived myself, she slept 
a healthy, profound, healing sleep : I returned 
to the outer room ; Osborne had wrapt him- 
self in his great coat, and lay stretched on the 
floor. I roused him, and told him to go for 
the horses and carriage immediately, so that 
the first thing that might welcome Alithea's 
awakening should be the offer of an immediate 
return home. He gladly obeyed, and left the 



FALKNER. 273 

hut ; but scarcely was he gone than a sort of 
consciousness came over me, that I would not 
remain with her alone ; so I followed him at 
some little distance towards the shed where 
the carriage and horses were. 

" The wind had scattered every cloud, and 
still howled through the clear gray morning 
sky, the sea was in violent commotion, and 
huge surges broke heavily and rapidly on the 
beach. The tide was flowing fast, and the bed 
of the river, we had crossed so safely the night 
before, was covered by the waves ; in a little 
time the ford would be impassable, and this 
was another reason to hasten the arrival of the 
horses. To the east each crag and precipice, 
each vast mountain top, showed in dark relief 
against the golden eastern sky ; seaward the 
horizon was misty from the gale, and the ocean 
stretched out illimitably ; curlews and gulls 
screamed as they skimmed the crested waves, 
and breaker after breaker dashed furiously at 
my feet. It was a desolate, but a magnificent 

n3 



274 FALKNER. 

spectacle, and my throbbing heart was in uni- 
son with its vast grandeurs. I blessed sua and 
wind, and heaven, and the dawn ; the guilt 
of my soul had passed from me, and with- 
out the grievous penalty I had dreaded ; all 
again was well. 1 walked swiftly on, I reached 
the shed. Osborne was busy with the horses ; 
he had done what he could for them the night 
before, and they seemed tolerably fresh. I 
spoke cheerfully to the man, as I helped to har- 
ness them. Osborne was still pale with fright, 
but when I told him that I was going to 
carry the lady back to her friends, and that 
there was nothing to fear, he took heart; I bade 
him come slowly along, that the noise of the 
wheels might not waken her, if she still slept, 
and I walked beside, my hand on the neck of 
one horse while he bestrode the other, and we 
gazed around and pointed to each other signs 
of the recent tempest, which had been so much 
more violent than I in my pre-occupation had 
known ; and then as the idea of the ford being 



FALKNER. 275 

rendered impassable crossed me again, I bid 
him get on at a quicker rate, there was no 
fear of disturbing the sleeping lady, for the 
wheels were noiseless on the heavy sands. 

" I have mentioned that huge sand hills 
were thrown up here and there on the beach ; 
two of the highest of these shut out all 
view of the hut, and even of the river, till we 
were close upon them. As we passed these 
mounds, my first glance was to see the state of 
the tide. The bed of the river was entirely 
filled with dashing crested waves, which 
poured in from the sea with inconceivable 
rapidity, and obliterated every trace of the ford. 
I looked anxiously round, but it was plain we 
must wait for the ebbing tide, or make a long 
detour to seek the upper part of the stream . 
As I gazed, something caught my eyes as pecu- 
liar. The foam of the breaking waves was 
white, and this object also was white ; yet was 
it real, or but the mockery of a human form ! 
For a moment my heart ceased to beat, and then 



276 FALKNER. 

with wings to my feet I ran to the hut : I rushed 
into the inner room — the couch was desert ed, 
the whole dwelling empty! I hurried back 
to the river's brink and strained my eyeballs 
to catcli a sight of the same fearful object ; it 
was there! I could not mistake, a wave lifted 
up and then again overwhelmed and swallowed 
in its abyss, the form, no longer living, the 
dead body of Alithea. I threw myself into 
the water, I battled with the waves, the tide 
bore me on. Again and again I was blinded 
and overwhelmed by the surges, but still I 
held on, and made my way into the middle 
of the roaring flood. As I rose gasping 
from one large billow, that had, for more 
than a minute, ingulfed me in its strang- 
ling depths, I felt a substance strike against 
me ; instinctively I clutched at it, and grasp- 
ing her long, streaming hair, now with re- 
newed strength and frantic energy I made 
for shore. I was as a plaything to the foaming 
billows, but by yielding to them, by suffering 



FALKNER. 277 

myself to be carried up the tide, to where the 
river grew shallower and the waves less pow- 
erful, I was miserable enough at last to escape. 
Fool ! did I not know that she was dead ! 
— why did I not, clasping her in my arms, re- 
sign my life to the waters ? No ! she had re- 
turned tome from the gates of death the night 
before, and I madly deemed the miracle would 
be twice performed. 

" I reached the bank. Osborne, trembling 
and ghastly, helped me to lift her on shore ; 
we endeavoured by various means to recall the 
spark of life : it was too late. She had been 
long in the water, and was quite dead ! 

" How can I write these words, how linger on 
these hideous details ? Alas ! they are for ever 
before me; no day, no hour passes but the whole 
scene is acted over again with startling vivid- 
ness — and my soul shrinks and shudders from 
the present image of death. Even now that the 
dawn of Greece is breaking among the hills ; 
that the balmy summer air fans my cheek, that 



278 FALKNER. 

the distant mountain tops are gilded by the 
morning beams — and the rich tranquil beauty 
of a southern clime is around ; yet even now 
the roar of that distant ocean is in my ear, 
the desolate coast stretches out far away, and 
Alithea lies pale, drenched and lifeless, at my 
feet. 

" I saw it all ; and how often, and for ever, 
do I go over in my thoughts what had passed 
during the interval of my absence ! She had 
awoke refreshed, she collected her scattered 
senses, she remembered the hideous vision of 
her carrying off. She knew not of my relent- 
ing, she feared my violence, she resolved to 
escape ; she was familiar with that shore ; its 
rivers and the laws which governed their tides, 
were known to her. She believed that she 
could pass the water in safety, for often when 
the bed of the estuary was apparently full, 
she knew that she had forded the stream 
on horseback, and the waters scarce co- 
vered the animal's fetlock. Intent on escap- 



FALKNER. 279 

ing the man of violence, of reaching her be- 
loved home, she had entered the stream 
without calculating the difference of a calm 
neap tide, and the mass of irresistible waves 
borne up by the strong western wind ; they 
perhaps seemed less terrible than I ; to fly 
from me, she encountered, delivered herself up 
to them ! and there she lay destroyed, dead, 
lost for ever ! 

" No more of this ! What then I did, may, 
I now conceive, appear more shocking to my 
countrymen, than all that went before. But 
I knew little of English customs. I had 
gone out an inexperienced stripling to India, 
and my modes of action were formed there. 
I now know that when one dies in England, 
they keep the lifeless corpse, weeping and 
watching beside it for many days, and then 
with lingering ceremonies, and the attendance 
of relations and friends, lay it solemnly in the 
dismal tomb. But I had seen whole armies 
mown down by the sword and disease ; I was 



280 FALKXER. 

accustomed to the soldier's hastily dug grave, 
in a climate where corruption follows fast upon 
death. To hide the dead with speed from 
every eye, was the Indian custom. 

"And then, should I take the corpse of 
Alithea, wet with the ocean tide, ghastly 
from the throes of recent death, and bear her 
to her home, and say, here she is — she en- 
joyed life and happiness yester-evening ; [ 
bore her away, behold my work ! Should I 
present myself to her husband, answer his 
questions, detail the various stages of my 
crime, and tamely await his vengeance, or his 
pardon ? never ! 

" Or should I destroy myself at her side, 
and leave our bodies to tell a frightful tale of 
mystery and horror? The miserable terrors 
of my associate would of itself have prevented 
this catastrophe. I had to reassure and pro- 
tect him. 

" My resolution was quickly made not to 
outlive my victim, and making atonement by 



FALKNER. 281 

my death, what other penalty could I be called 
upon to pay ? But my death should not be a 
tale to appal or amuse the vulgar, or to swell 
with triumph the heart of Alithea's tyrant 
husband. Secrecy and oblivion should cover 
all. My plan was laid, and 1 acted accord- 
ingly. 

" Osborne entered into the design with 
alacrity. He was moved by other feelings, 
he was possessed by an agony of fear ; he 
did not doubt but that we should be accused 
of murdering the hapless lady, and the image 
of the gallows flitted before his eyes. 

" Understanding each other without many 
words, Osborne said that in the shed where 
we had placed the horses, he had remarked a 
spade ; it was so early, that no one was about 
to observe him, and he went to fetch it. He 
returned in about half an hour ; I sat keeping- 
watch the while, by the dead, and feasted my 
eyes with the sight of my pale victim, as she 
lay at my feet. Of what tough materials is 



282 FALKNER. 

man formed, that my heart-strings did not 
break, and that I outlived that hour! 

" Osborne returned, and we went to work. 
Some ten yards above high water mark, there 
was a single, leafless, moss-grown, skeleton 
tree, with something like soil about its roots, 
and sheltered from the spray and breeze by 
the vicinity of a sand-hill : close to it we dug 
a deep grave. I placed the cushions in it, on 
which her fair form, all warm, and soft, had 
reposed during the preceding night. Then 
I composed her stark limbs, banding the long 
wet tresses of her abundant hair across her 
eyes, for ever closed, crossing her hands upon 
her pure, death-cold bosom ; I touched her 
reverently, I did not even profane her hand 
by a kiss ; I wrapped her in her cloak, and 
laid her in the open grave. I tore down some 
of the decaying boughs of the withered tree, 
and arching them above her body, threw my 
own cloak above, so with vain care to protect 
her lifeless form from immediate contact with 



EALKNER. 283 

the soil. Then we filled up the grave, and 
scattering dry sand above, removed every sign 
of recent opening. This was performed in 
silence, or with whispered words — the roaring 
waves were her knell, the rising sun her 
funeral torch ; I was satisfied with the solem- 
nity of the scene around ; and I was composed, 
for I was resolved on death. Osborne trem- 
bled in every limb, and his face rivalled in 
hue her wan, bloodless countenance. 

"We carefully removed every article from 
the hut, and put all in the same state as when 
we found it. I did not, indeed, fear discovery; 
who would imagine that my course would be 
to the desolate sea beach ? and if they did, and 
found all, I should be far, I should be dead. 
But Osborne was eager to obliterate every 
mark of the hut having been visited. When 
he was satisfied that he liad accomplished this, 
without looking behind, I got into the carriage, 
we drove with what speed we could to Lancas- 
ter, and thence to Liverpool. Osborne was 



284 FALKNER. 

in a transport of fear till lie got on board an 
American vessel : fortunately, the wind having 
veered towards the north, there was one about 
to weigh anchor. I placed a considerable sum 
of money in my accomplice's hands, and recom- 
mended discretion. He would have questioned 
me as to my own designs, but he respected my 
stern silence, and we parted never to meet 
again. A small coasting vessel, bound for 
Plymouth, was at that moment making her 
way out of harbour ; I hailed a man on board, 
and threw myself on to the deck. 

" Elizabeth can tell the rest. She knows 
how I landed in a secluded village of Corn- 
wall, with the intent there to make due sacri- 
fice to the outraged manes of Alithea. Still I 
grieve for the unaccomplished purpose ; still I 
repine that I did not there die. She stopped 
my hand. An angel, in likeness of a human 
child, arrested my arm ; and winning my 
wonder by her extraordinary loveliness, and 
my interest by her orphan and desolate posi- 



FALKNER. 285 

tion, I seemed called upon to live for her 
sake. The struggle was violent, for I longed 
to make atonement by my death ; and I longed 
to forget my crimes, and their consequences, 
in the oblivious grave. At first I thought that 
the respite I granted myself would be short, 
but it lasted for years ; and I dragged out a 
living death, having survived love and hope : 
remorse my follower ; ghastly images of crime 
and death my comrades. I travelled from 
place to place, pursued by Alithea's upbraid- 
ing ghost, and my own torturing thoughts. 
By frequent change of place, I sought to as- 
suage my pangs ; I believe that I increased 
them. They might, perhaps, have been miti- 
gated by the monotony of a stationary life. 
But a traveller's existence is all sensation, and 
every emotion is rendered active and pene- 
trating by the perpetual variation of the ap- 
pearances of natural objects. Thought and 
feeling awaken with the sun, and dewy eve 
and the radiant stars cause the eyes to turn 



28G FALKNER. 

towards the backward path ; while darkness, 
felt palpably, as one proceeds onward in an 
unknown land, awakens the snakes of con- 
science. The storm and expected wreck are 
images of retribution ; while yet the destruc- 
tion I pined for, receded from before my thirst- 
ing lips. 

" Yet still I dragged on life, most un- 
worthily and unworthy, till on a day I saw 
the son of my victim at Baden. I witnessed 
misery, widely spread, through my means ; 
and felt that her disembodied spirit must 
curse me for the evil I had brought on her 
beloved child. I remembered all she had 
fondly said of him : and the cloudless beauty 
of his face, his joyous laugh, and free step 
when last I saw him at her side. He was 
blighted and destroyed by me; gloomy, sa- 
vage and wild, eternal sorrow was written on 
his brow, fear and hatred gleamed in his eyes. 
Such by my means had the son of Alithea be- 
come ; such had his base-minded father 



% 
\ 

FALKNER. 287 

rendered him ; but mine the guilt— mine ^>e 
the punishment ! What a wretch was I, t 
live in peace, and security, ministered to by\ 
an angel — while this dearest part of herself 
was doomed to anguish, and to the unmiti- 
gated influence of the demon for ever at his 
side, through my accursed means. 

" From that hour I became thrice hateful 
to myself; I had tried to live for my Eliza- 
beth ; but that idea passed away with every 
other solace, in which hitherto I had iniqui- 
tously indulged. I resolved to die ; but as a 
taint has been cast by the most villanous 
heart in the world upon her hallowed name, 
my first task was to redeem that out of her 
unworthy husband's hands ; and yet I could 
not, I would not, while living, disclose the 
truth and give a triumph to my enemy. But 
soon, oh very soon, will the soil of Greece 
drink up my life-blood ! and while this writing 
proclaims her innocence, I shall be sheltered 



\ 



FALKNER. 

F the grave from the taunts and revilings of 
ten. 
" And you, dear child of my affection, who 
have been to me as a blessing immediate 
from heaven, who have warmed my heart with 
your love and smoothed the fierceness of my 
temper by your unalterable sweetness ; who 
having blessed me with your virtues, clinging 
to the ruin with a fidelity I believed impossible, 
how shall I say farewell to you? Forgive 
your friend that he deserts you ; long ago he 
deserted himself and the better part of life ; it 
is but the shell of him that remains ; and that 
corroded by remorse, and the desire to die. 
You deserve better than to have your young 
days clouded by the shadow of my crime 
thrown over them. Forget me, and be happy; 

you must be so, while I ! The sun is up ; 

the martial trumpet sounds. It is a joy to 
thifc^ that I shall have a soldier's grave." 



FALKNER. 



CHAPTER XIV. 



Such was the tale presented to the young, 
enthusiastic, innocent Elizabeth, unveiling the 
secret of the life of him whom she revered 
above all the world. Her soul was in her eyes 
as she read, or rather devoured, page after 
page, till she arrived at the catastrophe ; when 
a burst of passionate tears relieved her swell- 
ing bosom, and carried away upon their stream 
a thousand, trembling, unspeakable fears that 
had gathered in wild multitude around her 
heart. " He is innocent ! He, my benefactor, 
my father, when he accused himself of 

VOL. II. o 



./ 



! 



290 FALKNER. 

/ 

murder, spoke, as I thought, of a consequence, 
pt an act ; and if the chief principle of re- 
ligion be true, that repentance washes away 
sin, he is pardoned, and the crime forgotten. 
Noble, generous heart ! What drops of 
anguish have you not shed in atonement ! 
What glorious obsequies you pay your victim ! 
For she also is acquitted. Gerard's mother 
is more than innocent. She was true to him, 
and to the purest sentiments of nature, to the 
end ; nay more, her life was sacrificed to 
them." And Elizabeth went over in her mind, 
as Falkner had often done, the emotions that 
actuated her to attempt the dangerous passage 
across the ford. She fancied her awakening 
on tlie fatal morning, her wild look around. 
No familiar object met her view — nor did any 
friendly voice re-assure her ; the strange scene 
and solitary hut were testimonies that she did 
not dream, and that she had really been torn 
from home and all she loved by a violence she 
could not resist. At first she must have lis- 
tened tremblingly, and fancied her lover- 



FALKNER. 291 

enemy at hand. But all is still. She rises ; 
she ventures to examine the strange dwelling 
to which she has been carried — no human 
being presents himself. She quits the thresh- 
old of the hut — a familiar scene is before her 
eyes, the ocean, and the dreary, but well 
known shore — the river which she has so 
often crossed — and among the foldings of the 
not distant hills, embosomed in trees, she sees 
Dromore, her tranquil home. She knows that 
it is but a few miles distant ; and while she 
fancies her enemy near at hand, yet the hope 
animates her that she may cross the stream 
unseen, and escape. Elizabeth imaged all her 
hopes and fears ; she seemed to see the hapless 
lady place her uncertain feet, her purpose 
being staunch and unfaltering, within the 
shallow wave, which she believed she could 
traverse in safety ; the roar of the advancing 
tide was in her ears, the spray dashed round 
her, and her footing grew uncertain, as she 
sought to find her way across the rugged 

o2 



292 FALKNER. 

bed of the river. But she thought only of her 
child, from whom she had been torn, and her 
fears of being, through the deed of violence 
which had carried her off, excluded from her 
home for ever. To arrive at that home was all 
her desire. As she advanced she still fixed 
her eyes on the clustering woods of Dromore, 
sleeping stilly in the grey, quiet dawn : and 
she risked her life unhesitatingly to gain 
the sacred shelter. All depended on her 
reaching it, quickly and alone ; and she was 
doomed never to see it more. She advances 
resolutely, but cautiously. The waves rise 
higher — she is in the midst of the stream — 
her footing becomes more unsteady — does she 
look back? — there is no return — her heart 
proudly repels the very thought of desiring it. 
She gathers her garments about her — she 
looks right onward — she steps more carefully 
— the surges buffet her — they rise higher and 
higher — the spray is dashed over her head, 
and blinds her sight — a false step — she falls 



FALKNER. 293 

— the waters open to engulf her — she is borne 
away. One thought of her Gerard — one 
prayer to Heaven, and the human eye can 
pursue the parting soul no further. She is 
lost to earth — none upon it can any longer 
claim a portion in her. 

But she is innocent. The last word mur- 
mured in her last sleep — the last word human 
ears heard her utter, was her son's name. To 
the last she was all mother; her heart filled 
with that deep yearning, which a young mother 
feels to be the very essence of her life, for the 
presence of her child. There is something 
so beautiful in a young mother's feelings. 
Usually a creature to be fostered and pro- 
tected — taught to look to another for aid and 
safety ; yet a woman is the undaunted guar- 
dian of her little child. She will expose 
herself to a thousand dangers to shield his 
fragile being from harm. If sickness or in- 
jury approach him, her heart is transfixed by 
terror : readily, joyfully, she would give her 



294 FALKNER. 

own blood to sustain him. The world is a 
hideous desert when she is threatened to be 
deprived of him ; and when he is near, and 
she takes him to the shelter of her bosom, and 
wraps him in her soft, warm embrace, she 
cares for nothing beyond that circle ; and his 
smiles and infantine caresses are the life of 
her life. Such a mother was Alithea; and in 
Gerard she possessed a son capable of calling 
forth in its intensity, and of fully rewarding, 
her maternal tenderness. What wonder, when 
she saw him cast pitilessly down, on the road 
side — alive or dead she knew not — the wheel 
of the carriage that bore her away, might have 
crushed and destroyed his tender limbs — what 
wonder that she should be threatened by in- 
stant death, through the excess of her agony? 
What wonder that, reviving from death, her 
first and only thought was to escape — to get 
back to him — to clasp him to her heart — never 
to be severed more ? 

How glad, and yet how miserable, Gerard 



FALKNER. 295 

would be to read this tale. His proudest and 
fondest assertions certified as true, and yet to 
feel that he had lost her for ever, whose ex- 
cellence was proved to be thus paramount. 
Elizabeth's reflections now rested on him — 
and now turned to Falkner — and now she 
opened the manuscript again, and read anew 
— and then again her heart made its commen- 
tary, and she wept and rejoiced ; and longed 
to comfort her father, and congratulate Neville, 
all in a breath. 

She never thought of herself. This was 
Elizabeth's peculiarity. She could be so en- 
grossed by sympathy for others, that she could 
forget herself wholly. At length she remem- 
bered her father's directions, that his manu- 
script should be given to Neville when he called. 
She had no thought of disobeying ; nor could 
she help being glad that Gerard's filial affection 
should receive its reward, even while she was 
pained to think that Falkner should be changed 
at once into an enemy in her new friend's eyes. 



296 FALKNER. 

Still her generous nature led her instantly to 
ally herself to the weaker side. Neville was 
triumphant — Falkner humiliated and fallen ; 
and thus he drew her closer to him, and 
riveted the chain of gratitude and fidelity 
by which she was bound. She had shed many 
tears for Alithea's untimely fate ; for the vir- 
tues and happiness hurried to a mysterious end 
— buried in an untold grave. But she had 
her reward. Long had she been there, where 
there is no trouble, no strife — her pure soul 
received into the company of kindred angels. 
Her heroism would now be known ; her ac- 
tions justified ; she would be raised above her 
sex in praise ; her memory crowned with 
unfading glory. It was Falkner who needed 
the exertion of present service, to forgive and 
console. He must be raised from his self- 
abasement; his despair must be cured. He 
must feel that the hour of remorse was past ; 
that of repentance and forgiveness come. He 
must be rewarded for all his goodness to 



FALKNER. 297 

her, by being made to love life for her sake. 
Neville, whose heart was free from every base 
alloy, would enter into these feelings. Con- 
tent to rescue the fame of his mother from 
the injury done it; happy in being assured 
that his faithful, filial love had not been 
mistaken in its reliance, the first emotion of 

: 

his generous soul would be to forgive. Yet 
Elizabeth fancied that, borne away by his 
ardour in his mother's cause, he might alto- 
gether pass over and forget the extenuating 
circumstances that rendered Falkner worthy 
of pardon ; and she thought it right to accom- 
pany the narrative with an explanatory letter. 
Thus she wrote : 

" My father has given me these papers for 
the purpose of transmitting them to you. I 
need not tell you that I read them this day for 
the first time ; that till now I was in total igno- 
rance of the facts they disclose. 

" It is most true that I, a little child, 
stopped his arm as he was about to destroy him- 

o3 



298 



FALKNER. 



self. Moved by pity for my orphan state, he 
consented to live. Is this a crime ? Yet I could 
not reconcile him to life, and he went to 
Greece, seeking death. He went there in the 
pride of life and health. You saw him at 
Marseilles; you saw him to-day — the living- 
effigy of remorse and woe. 

" It is hard, at the moment you discover 
that he was the cause of your mother's death, 
to ask your sympathy for his sufferings 
and high-minded contrition. I leave you to 
follow the dictates of your own heart, with 
regard to him. For myself, attached to him 
as I am by every sentiment of affection and 
gratitude, I am, from this moment, more than 
ever devoted to his service, and eager to prove 
to him my fidelity. 

" These words come from myself. My fa- 
ther knows not what I write. He simply told 
me to inform you that he should remain here ; 
and if you desired aught of him, he was ready 
at your call. He thinks, perhaps, you may re- 



FALKNER. 299 

quire further explanation — further guidance 
to your mother's grave. Oh, secret and ob- 
scure as it is, is it not guarded by angels ? 
Have you not been already led to it?" 

She left off abruptly — she heard a ring at 
the outer gate — the hour had come — it must 
be Neville! She placed the papers in the writ- 
ing-case, and directing and sealing the letter, 
gave both to the servant, to be delivered to 
him. Scarcely was this done, when, suddenly 
it flashed across her, how the relative situations 
of Neville and herself were changed. That 
morning she had been his chosen friend — 
into her ear he poured the history of his 
hopes and fears — he claimed her sympathy — 
and she felt that from her he derived a 
happiness never felt before. Now he must 
regard her as the daughter of his mother's 
destroyer, and should she ever see him more ? 
Instinctively she rushed to the highest room 
of the house to catch one other glimpse. By 
the time she reached the window, the act was 



300 FALKNER. 

fulfilled that changed both their lives — the 
packet given. Dimly, in the twilight, she 
saw a horseman emerge from under the wall 
of the garden, and slowly cross the heath; 
slowly at first, as if he did not comprehend 
what had happened, or what he was doing. 
There is something that excites unspeakable 
tenderness when the form of the loved one is 
seen, even from far ; and Elizabeth, though 
unaware of the nature and depth of her sen- 
sations, yet felt her heart soften and yearn 
towards her friend. A blessing fell from her 
lips ; while the consciousness of all of doubt- 
ful and sad that he must at that moment 
experience, at being sent from her door with a 
written communication only, joined to the 
knowledge that each succeeding hour would 
add to the barriers that separated them, so 
overcame her, that when at last he put spurs 
to his horse, and was borne out of sight into 
the thickening twilight, she burst into a pas- 
sion of tears, and wept for some time, not 



FALKNER. 301 

knowing what she did, nor where she was; 
but feeling that from that hour the colour of 
her existence was changed — its golden hue 
departed — and that patience and resignation 
must henceforth take place of gladness and 
hope. 

She roused herself after a few minutes from 
this sort of trance, and her thoughts reverted to 
Falkner. There are few crimes so enormous 
but that, when we undertake to analyse their 
motives, they do not find some excuse and par- 
don in the eyes of all, except their perpetrators. 
Sympathy is more of a deceiver than con- 
science. The stander-by may dilate on the 
force of passion and the power of temptation, 
but the guilty are not cheated by such subter- 
fuges ; he knows that the still voice within 
was articulate to him. He remembers that at 
the moment of action he felt his arm checked, 
his ear warned ; he could have stopped, and 
been innocent. Perhaps of all the scourges 
wielded by the dread Eumenides, there is none 



302 FALKNER. 

so torturing as the consciousness of the wilful- 
ness of the act deplored. It is a mysterious 
principle, to be driven out by no reasonings, no 
commonplace philosophy. It had eaten into 
Falkner's soul ; taken sleep from his eyes, 
strength from his limbs, every healthy and 
self-complacent sentiment from his soul. 

Elizabeth, however, innocent and good as 
she was, fancied a thousand excuses for an act, 
whose frightful catastrophe was not foreseen. 
Falkner called himself a murderer; but though 
the untimely death of the unfortunate Alithea 
was brought about by his means, so far from 
being guilty of the deed, he would have given a 
thousand lives to save her. Since her death, she 
well knew that sleep had not refreshed, nor food 
nourished him. He was blighted, turned from 
all the uses, and enjoyments of life ; he desired 
the repose of the grave ; he had sought death ; he 
had made himself akin to the grim destroyer. 

That he had acted wrongly, nay criminally, 
Elizabeth acknowledged. But by how many 



FALKNER. 303 

throes of anguish, by what repentance and sacri- 
fice of all that life holds dear, had he not ex- 
piated the past ! Elizabeth longed to see him 
again, to tell him how fondly she still loved 
him, how he was exalted, not debased in her 
eyes ; to comfort him with her sympathy, che- 
rish him with her love. It was true that she did 
not quite approve of the present state of his 
mind ; there was too much of pride, too much 
despair. But when he found that, instead of 
scorn, his confessions met with compassion and 
redoubled affection, his heart would soften, he 
would no longer desire to die, so to escape 
from blame and retribution ; but be content to 
endure, and teach himself that resignation 
which is the noblest, and most unattainable 
temper of mind to which humanity may aspire. 



304 



FALKNER. 



CHAPTER XV. 

While these thoughts, founded on a natural 
piety, pure and gentle as herself, occupied 
Elizabeth, Falkner indulged in far other specu- 
lations. He triumphed. It is strange, that 
although perpetually deceived and led astray 
by our imagination, we always fancy that we 
can foresee, and in some sort command, the 
consequences of our actions. Falkner, while 
he deplored his beloved victim with the most 
heartfelt grief, yet at no time experienced a 
qualm of fear, because he believed that he held 
the means of escape in his own hands, and 



FALKNER. 305 

could always shelter himself from the oblo- 
quy that he now incurred, in an unapproachable 
tomb. Through strange accidents, that re- 
source had failed him ; he was alive, and his 
secret was in the hands of his enemies. But 
as he confronted the injured son of a more 
injured mother, another thought, dearer to his 
lawless yet heroic imagination, presented itself. 
There was one reparation he could make, and 
doubtless it would be demanded of him. The 
law of honour would be resorted to, to avenge 
the death of Alithea. He did not for a mo- 
ment doubt but that Neville would challenge 
him. His care must be to fall by the young 
man's hand. There was a sort of poetical 
justice in this idea, a noble and fitting ending 
to his disastrous story, that solaced his pride, 
and filled him, as has been said, with triumph. 
Having arrived at this conclusion, he felt sure 
also that the consummation would follow im- 
mediately on Neville's perusal of the narration 
put into his hands. This very day might be his 



306 FALKNER. 

last, and it was necessary to make every pre- 
liminary arrangement. Leaving' Elizabeth oc- 
cupied with his fatal papers, he drove to town 
to seek Mr. Raby's solicitor, to place in his 
hands the proofs of his adopted child's birth, 
so to secure her future acknowledgment by 
her father's family. She was not his child ; 
no drop of his blood flowed in her veins ; his 
name did not belong to her. As Miss Raby, 
Neville would gladly seek her, while as Miss 
Falkner, an insuperable barrier existed between 
them ; and though he fell by Gerard's hand, yet 
he meant to leave a letter to convince her that 
this was but a sort of cunning suicide, and that 
it need place no obstacle between two persons, 
whom he believed were formed for each other. 
What more delightful than that his own Eliza- 
beth, should love the son of Alithea ! If he sur- 
vived, indeed, this mutual attachment would be 
beset by difficulties ; his death was like the le- 
velling of a mountain, all was plain, easy, happy, 
when he no longer deformed the scene. 



FALKNER. 307 

He had some difficulty in meeting with Mr. 
Raby's man of business. He found himhowever 
perfectly acquainted with all the circumstances, 
and eager to examine the documents placed in 
his hands. He had already written to Treby 
and received confirmation of all Falkner's state- 
ments. This activity had been imparted by 
Mrs. Raby, then at Tunbridge Wells, who was 
anxious to render justice to the orphan, the 
moment she had been informed of her existence; 
Falkner heard with great satisfaction of the 
excellent qualities of this lady, and the interest 
she showed in poor Edwin Raby's orphan child. 
The day was consumed, and part of the evening 
in these arrangements, and a final interview 
with his own solicitor. His will was already 
made, he divided his property between Eliza- 
beth, and his cousin, the only surviving daugh- 
ter of his uncle. 

Something of shame was in his heart when 
he returned and met again his adopted child, 
a shame ennobled by the sense that he was soon 



308 FALKNER. 

to offer up his life as atonement ; while she, 
who had long been reflecting on all that oc- 
curred, yet felt it brought home more keenly 
when she again saw him, and read in his coun- 
tenance the tale of remorse and grief, more 
legibly than in the written page. Passionately 
and gratefully attached, her heart warmed to- 
wards him, his very look of suffering was an 
urgent call upon her fidelity ; and though she 
felt all the change that his disclosures operated, 
though she saw the flowery path she had been 
treading, at once wasted and barren, all sense 
of personal disappointment was merged in her 
desire to prove her affection at that moment ; 
silently, but with heroic fervour, she offered 
herself up at the shrine of his broken fortunes : 
love, friendship, good name, life itself, if need 
were, should be set at nought; weighed in 
a balance against her duty to him, they were 
but as a feather in the scale. 

They sat together as of old, their looks were 
affectionate, their talk cheerful ; it seemed to 



FALKNER. 309 

embrace the future as well as the present, and 
yet to exclude every painful reflection. The 
heart of each bore its own secret without 
betrayal. Falkner expected in a few hours to 
be called upon to expiate with his life the evils 
he had caused, while Elizabeth's thoughts 
wandered to Neville. Now he was reading 
the fatal narrative ; now agonized pity for his 
mother, now abhorrence of Falkner, alternated 
in his heart ; her image was cast out, or only 
called up to be associated with the hated name 
of the destroyer. Her sensibility was keenly 
excited. How ardently had she prayed, how 
fervently had she believed that he would 
succeed in establishing his mother's innocence ; 
in what high honour she had held his filial 
piety, — these things were still the same ; yet 
how changed were both towards each other! 
It was impossible that they should ever meet 
again as formerly, ever take counsel together, 
that she should ever be made happy by the 



310 FALKNER. 

reflection that she was his friend and com- 
forter. 

Falkner called her attention by a detail 
of his journey to Belleforest, and the proba- 
bility that she would soon have a visit from 
her aunt. Here was a new revulsion ; Eliza- 
beth was forced to remember that her name 
was Raby. Falkner described the majestic 
beauties of the ancestral seat of her Family, 
tried to impress her with the imposing gran- 
deur of its antiquity, to interest her in its 
religion and prejudices, to gild the reality of 
pride and desertion with the false colours of 
principle and faith. He spoke of Mrs. Raby, 
as he had heard her mentioned, as a woman of 
warm feeling, strong intellect, and extreme 
generosity. Elizabeth listened, but her eyes 
were fondly fixed on Falkner's face, and at 
last she exclaimed with spontaneous earnest- 
ness, " For all this I am your child, and we 
shall never be divided ! " 



FALKNER. 311 

It was now near midnight; at each moment 
Falkner expected a message from the son of 
his victim. He engaged Elizabeth to retire 
to her room, that her suspicions might not be 
excited by the arrival of a visitor at that 
unaccustomed hour. He was glad to see her 
wholly unsuspicious of what he deemed the 
inevitable consequence of his confession ; for 
though her thoughts evidently wandered, and 
traces of regret clouded her brow, it was 
regret, not fear, that inspired sadness ; she 
tried to cheer, to comfort for the past, and 
gain fortitude to meet the future ; but that 
future presented no more appalling image than 
the never seeing Gerard Neville more. 

She went, and he remained waiting and 
watching the livelong night, but no one came. 
The following day passed, and the same mys- 
terious silence was observed. What could it 
mean? It was impossible to accuse Alithea's 
child of lukewarmness in her cause, or want 
of courage. A sort of dark, mysterious fear 



312 FALKNER. 

crept over Falkner's heart ; something would 
be done ; some vengeance taken. In what 
frightful shape would the ghost of the past 
haunt him ? He seemed to scent horror and 
disgrace in the very winds, yet he was spell- 
bound ; he must await Neville's call, he must 
remain as he had promised, to offer the atone- 
ment demanded. He had felt glad and trium- 
phant when he believed that reparation to be 
his life in the field ; but the delay was omi- 
nous ; he knew not why, but at each ring at 
the gate, each step along the passages of the 
house, his heart grew chill, his. soul quailed. 
He despised himself for cowardice, yet it was 
not that ; but he knew that evil was at hand ; 
he pitied Elizabeth, and he shrunk from him- 
self as one doomed to dishonour, and un- 
speakable misery. 

END OF VOL. II. 



STEVENS AND PARDON, PRINTERS, BELL YARD, TEMPLE BAR. 




FALKNE 



A NOVEL 



BY 



THE AUTHOR OF "FRANKENSTEIN;" 
"THE LAST MAN," &c. 



,' 



/ 

" there stood 

In record of a sweet sad story, 
An altar, and a temple bright, 
Circled by steps, and o'er the gate 
Was sculptured, « To Fidelity !'" 

Shelley. 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 
VOL. III. 



LONDON 
SAUNDERS AND OTLEY CONDUIT STREET 

1837 



5^ 

ml 



STEVENS AND PARDON, PRINTERS, 
BELL YARD, TEMPLE BAR. 



FALKNER. 



CHAPTER I. 

On arriving in London from Hastings, Ne- 
ville had repaired as usual to his father's 
house ; which, as was to be supposed at that 
season of the year, he found empty. On the 
second day Sir Boyvill presented himself unex- 
pectedly. He looked cold and stern as ever. 
The father and son met as they were wont : the 
latter anticipating rebuke and angry unjust 
commands ; the other assuming the lofty tone 
of legitimate authority, indignant at being 
disputed. " I hear from Sophia,'' said Sir 
Boyvill, " that you are on the point of sailing 

VOL. III. B 



I FALKNER. 

for America, and this without deigning to 
acquaint me with your purpose. Is this fair? 
Common acquaintances act with more cere- 
mony towards each, other." 

" I feared your disapproval, sir," replied 
Neville. 

" And thought it less faulty to act without, 
than against a father's consent : such is the 
vulgar notion; but a very erroneous one. It 
doubles the injury, both to disobey me, and to 
keep me in the dark with regard to my danger." 

" But if the danger be only imaginary ?" ob- 
served his son. 

Sir Boyvill replied, " I am not come to argue 
with you, nor to dissuade, nor to issue com- 
mands. I come with the more humble inten- 
tion of being instructed. Sophy, though she 
evidently regrets your purposed journey, yet 
avers that it is not so wild and aimless as 
your expeditions have hitherto been — that the 
letters from Lancaster did lead to some un- 
looked-for disclosure. You little know me if 



FALKNER. 3 

you are not aware that I have the question, 
which you debate in so rash and boyish a 
manner, as deeply and more sorely at heart 
than you. Let me then hear the tale you 
have heard." 

Surprised and even touched to find his 
father unbend so far as to listen to him, 
Neville related the American's story, and the 
information that it seemed probable that 
Osborne could afford. Sir Boyvill listened 
attentively, and then observed: " It will be 
matter of triumph to you, Gerard, to learn 
that your strange perseverance has a little 
overcome me. You are no longer a mere 
lad; and though inexperienced and head- 
strong, you have shown talents and decision ; 
and I am willing to believe, though perhaps 
I am wrong, that you are guided by conviction, 
and not by a blind wish to disobey. Your 
conduct has been consistent throughout, and 
so far is entitled to respect. But you are, as 
I have said (and forgive a father for saying so) 

b 2 



4 FALKNEK. 

— inexperienced — a mere child in the world's 
ways. You go straight-forward to your object, 
reckless of the remark that you excite, and 
the gall and wormwood that such remark im- 
parts. Why will you not in some degree be 
swayed by me? Our views, if you would 
deign to inquire into mine, are not so 
dissimilar." 

Neville knew not what to answer, for every 
reply and explanation were likely to offend. 
"Hitherto," continued Sir Boyvill, "in dis- 
gust at your wilfulness, I have only issued 
disregarded commands. But I am willing to 
treat my son as my friend, if he will let me ; 
but it must be on one condition. I exact one 
promise." 

"I am ready, sir," replied Neville, "to 
enter into any engagement that does not 
defeat my purpose." 

" It is simply," said Sir Boyvill, " that you 
shall do nothing without consulting me. I, 
on the other hand, will promise not to inter- 



FALKNER. 



fere by issuing orders which you will not 
obey. But if there is any sense in your pur- 
suit, my councils may assist. I ask no more 
than to offer advice, and to have opportunity 
afforded me to express my opinion. Will 
you not allow that so much is due to me? 
Will you not engage to communicate your 
projects, and to acquaint me unreservedly with 
every circumstance that falls to your know- 
ledge ? This is the limit of my exactions." 

" Most willingly I make this promise," 
exclaimed Neville. " It will indeed be my 
pride to have your participation in my sacred 
task." 

"How far I can afford that," replied Sir 
Boyvill, " depends on the conduct you will 
pursue. With regard to this Osborne, I con- 
sent at once that his story should be sifted — 
nay, that you should go to America for that 
purpose, while you are ready to engage that 
you will not act on any information you may 
gather, without my knowledge." 



FALKNER. 

"You may depend," said Gerard, "that I 
will keep to the letter of my promise — and I 
pledge my honour gladly and unreservedly to 
tell you everything, to learn your wishes, and 
to endeavour throughout to act with your 
approbation." 

This concession made on both sides, the 
father and son conversed on more unreserved 
and kinder terms than they had ever before 
done. They passed the evening together, and 
though the arrogance, the wounded pride, the 
irritated feelings, and unredeemed selfishness 
of Sir Boyvill betrayed themselves at every 
moment, Gerard saw with surprise the weak- 
ness masked by so imposing an exterior. His 
angry commands and insulting blame had been 
used as batteries to defend the accessible part. 
He still loved and regretted Alithea, he 
pined to be assured of her truth — but he de- 
spised himself for these emotions — calling them 
feebleness and credulity. He felt assured that 
his worst suspicions would be proved true. — 



FALKNER. 7 

She might now be dead ; he thought it pro- 
bable that ere this her faults and sorrows were 
hushed in the grave : but had she remained 
voluntarily one half hour in the power of the 
man who had carried her from her home, no 
subsequent repentance, no remorse, no suf- 
fering could exculpate her. What he feared 
was the revival of a story so full of dishonour 
— the dragging a mangled half-formed tale 
again before the public, which would jeer his 
credulity, and make merry over the new gloss 
of a time-worn subject. When such a. notion 
occupied his brain, his heart swelled with 
uncontrollable emotions of pride and indig- 
nation. 

Neville eared little for the world. He 
thought of his mother's wrongs and sufferings. 
He conjured up the long years which might 
have been spent in wretchedness ; he longed, 
whatever she had done, to feel her maternal 
embrace, to show his gratitude for her early 
care of him. This was one view, one class of 



8 FALKNER. 

emotions present to his mind, when any oc- 
currence tended to shake his belief in her 
unblemished honour and integrity, which was 
the religion of his heart. At the same time 
he, as much as his father, abhorred that the 
indifferent and light-hearted, the levelling and 
base, should have any food administered to 
their loathsome appetite for slander. So far 
as his father's views were limited to the guard- 
ing Alithea's name from further discussion, 
Neville honoured them. He showed Sir Boy- 
vill that he was not so imprudent as he seemed, 
and brought him at last to allow that some 
discovery might ensue from his voyage. This 
open-hearted and peaceful interchange of senti- 
ment between them was very cheering to both ; 
and when Gerard visited Elizabeth the fol- 
lowing day, his spirit was lighter and happier 
than it had ever been, and love was there to 
mingle its roseate visions with the sterner 
calls of duty. He entered Falkner's house 
with much of triumph, and more of hope 



FALKNER. 9 

gladdening his heart; he left it horror-struck, 
aghast, and almost despairing. 

He would not return to his father, Eliza- 
beth's supposition that Falkner spoke under 
a delusion, produced by sudden insanity; and 
his reluctance that while doubt hung over the 
event, that her dear name should be needlessly 
mixed up with the tragedy of his mother's 
death, restrained him. He resolved at once 
to take no final step till the evening, till he 
had again seen Elizabeth, and learned what 
foundation there was for the tremendous avowal 
that still rung in his ears. The evening — he 
had mentioned the evening — but would it ever 
come ? till then he walked in a frightful 
dream. He first went to the docks, withdrew 
his luggage, and yet left word that by possi- 
bility he might still join the vessel at Sheer- 
ness. He did this, for he was glad to give 
himself something to do ; and yet, soon after, 
how gladly would he have exchanged those 
hours of suspense, -for the certainty that too 



10 FALKNER. 

quickly came like a sudden ray of light, to 
show that he had long been walking at the 
edge of a giddy precipice. He received the 
packet and letter from the servant ; dizzy and 
confounded he rode away; by the light of the 
first lamp he read Elizabeth's letter, it disor- 
dered the current of his blood, it confused and 
maddened the functions of reason ; putting 
spurs to his horse he galloped furiously on 
till he reached his father's house. 

Sir Boyvill was seated solitarily in his 
drawing-room, sipping his coffee, and indulg- 
ing in various thought. His wedded life with 
Alithea — her charms, her admirable qualities, 
and sweet, endearing disposition — occupied him 
as they had never done before since her flight. 
For the first time the veil, woven by anger and 
vanity, fell from his eyes, and he saw distinctly 
the rashness and injustice of his past actions. 
He became convinced that deceit could never 
have had a part in her ; — did not her child resem- 
ble her, and was he not truth itself? He had 



FALKNER. 



II 



nourished an aversion to his son, as her off- 
spring; now he looked on his virtues as an 
inheritance derived from his sweet mother, 
and his heart instinctively, unaccountably, 
warmed towards both. 

Gerard opened the door of the room and 
looked in ; Sir Boyvill could hardly have re- 
cognized him, his face whiter than marble, 
his eyes wild and wandering, his whole coun- 
tenance convulsed, his person shrunk up and 
writhing. He threw the packet on the table, 
crying out, " Victory, my father, victory !'' in 
a voice so shrill and dissonant, so near a shriek, 
as to inspire his auditor with fear rather than 
triumph : " Read! read !" he continued," lhave 
not yet — I keep my word, you shall know all, 
even before me — and yet, I do know all, I 
have seen my mother's destroyer! She is 
dead !" 

Sir Boyvill now, in some degree, compre- 
hended his son's agitation. He saw that he 
was too much excited to act with any calm- 



12 FALKNER. 

ness ; he could not guess how he had dis- 
covered the villain on whom both would 
desire to heap endless, unsatiable revenge ; but 
he did not wonder, that if he had really 
encountered this man, and learned his deeds, 
that he should be transported into a sort of 
frenzy. He took up the packet — he cut the 
string that tied it — he turned over the papers, 
and his brow darkened. " Here is a long 
narrative," he said ; " there is much of ex- 
cuse, and much of explanation here. The 
story ought to be short that exculpates her ; 
I do not like these varnishings of the simple 
truth." 

" You will find none," said Neville ; " at 
least I heard none. His words were direct — 
his avowal contained no subterfuge." 

" Of whom do you speak?" asked Sir 
Boyvill. 

" Read," said Neville ; " and you will know 
more than I ; but half an hour ago those 
papers were put into my hands. I have not 



FALKNER. 13 

read them. I give them to you before I am 
aware of their contents, that I might fully 
acquit myself of my promise. They come from 
Rupert Falkner, my mother's destroyer." 

" Leave me then to my task," said Sir Boy- 
vill, in an altered and subdued tone, " You 
speak of strange things: facts to undo a 
frightful past, and to generate a future, dedi- 
cated to a new revenge. Leave me ; let me 
remain alone while I read — while I ponder on 
what credit I may give — what course I must 
pursue. Leave me, Gerard. Lhave long in- 
jured you; but at last you will be repaid. 
Come back in a few hours ; the moment I am 
master of the contents of the manuscript I will 
see you." 

Gerard left. him. He had scarcely been 
aware of what he was doing when he carried 
the packet, unopened, unexamined, to his 
father. He had feared that he mi^ht be 
tempted — to what? — to conceal his mother's 
vindication ? Never ! Yet the responsibility 



14 FALKNER. 

i 

sat heavy on him ; and, driven by an irresis- 
tible impulse, he had resolved to deprive him- 
self of all power of acting basely, by giving 
at once publicity to all that passed. When he 
had done this, he felt as if he had applied a 
match to some fatal rocket which would carry 
destruction to the very temple and shrine of 
his dearest hopes — to Elizabeth's happiness 
and life. But the deed was done; he could 
but shut his eyes and let the mortal ball pro- 
ceed towards its destined prey. 

Gerard was young. He aspired to happiness 
with all the ardour of youth. While we are 
young, we feel as if happiness were the birth- 
right of humanity ; after a long and cruel 
apprenticeship, we disengage ourselves from 
this illusion — or from (a yet more difficult 
sacrifice) the realities that produce felicity — 
for on earth there are such, though they are 
too often linked with adjuncts that make the 
purchase of them cost in the end peace of 
mind and a pure conscience. Thus was it with 



FALKNER. 



15 



Gerard. With Elizabeth, winning her love 
and making her his own, he felt assured of a 
life of happiness ; but to sacrifice his mother's 
name — the holy task to which he had dedi- 
cated himself from childhood, for the sake of 
obtaining her — it must not be ! 

With this thought came destruction to the 
fresh-sprung hopes that adorned his existence. 
Gerard's poetic and tender nature led him to 
form sweet dreams of joys derived from a 
union which would be cemented by affection, 
sympathy, and enthusiastic admiration of the 
virtues of his companion. In Elizabeth he 
had beheld the embodying of all his wishes ; 
in her eyes he had read their accomplishment. 
Her love for her father had first awakened 
his love. Her wise, simple, upright train of 
thinking — the sensibility ennobled by self- 
command, yet ever ready to spring forth and 
comfort the unhappy — her generosity — her 
total abnegation of self — her understanding 
so just and true, yet tempered with feminine 



16 FALKNER. 

aptitude to adapt itself to the situation and 
sentiments of others, all these qualities, dis- 
covered one by one, and made dear by the 
friendship she displayed towards him, had 
opened the hitherto closed gates of the world's 
only paradise ; and now he found that, as 
the poet says, evil had entered even there — 
"and the trail of the serpent," marked with 
slimy poison the fairest and purest of Eden's 
flowers.* 

Neville had looked forward to a life of 
blameless but ecstatic happiness, as her friend, 
her protector, her husband. Youth, without 
being presumptuous, is often sanguine. Pro- 
digal of self, it expects, as of right, a full 
return. Ready to assist Elizabeth in her task 
of watching over her father's health — who in 
his eyes, was wasting gradually away — he felt 

* Alas, for man ! said the pitying Spirit, 

Dearly you pay for your primal fall ! 

Some flowers of Eden you still inherit, 

But the trail of the serpent is over them all. 

Paradise and the Peri. 

... - 



FALKNER. 17 

that he should be near to soften her regrets, 
and fill his place ; and soothe her sinking spirits 
when struck by a loss which to her would seem 
so dire. 

And now — Falkner ! — He believed him to 
be in a state of health that did not leave him 
many years to live. He recollected him at 
Marseilles, stretched on his couch, feeble as 
an infant, the hues of death on his brow. He 
thought of him as he had seen him that morn- 
ing — his figure bent by disease — his face ashy 
pale and worn. He was the man whom thir- 
teen years before he remembered in upright, 
proud, and youthful strength — woe and disease 
had brought on the ravages of age — he was 
struck by premature decay — a few years, by 
the course of nature, he would be laid in his 
grave. But Gerard could not leave him this 
respite — he must at once meet him in such 
encounter as must end in the death of one of 
the combatants — whichever that might be, 
there was no hope for Elizabeth — in either 



18 



FALKNER. 



case she lost her all — in either case Falkner 
would die, and an insuperable barrier be raised 
between her and her only other friend. Ne- 
ville's ardent and gentle spirit quivered with 
agony as he thought of these things. " ye 
destructive powers of nature ! " he cried ; 
*' come all ! Storm — flood and fire — mingled 
in one dire whirlwind ; or bring the deadlier 
tortures tyrants have inflicted, and martyrs un- 
dergone, and say, can any agony equal that 
which convulses the human heart, when writh- 
ing under contending passions — torn by con- 
trary purposes. This very morning Elizabeth 
was all the universe of hope and joy. I would 
not for worlds have injured one hair of her 
dear head, and now I meditate a deed that is 
to consign her to eternal grief." 

Athwart this tumult of thought, came the 
recollection that he was still in ignorance of 
the truth. He called to mind the narrative 
which his father was then reading — would 
it reveal aught that must alter the line of 



FALKNER. 19 

conduct which he now considered inevitable ? 
a devouring curiosity was awakened. Leav- 
ing his father, he had rushed into the open 
air, in obedience to the instinct that always 
leads the unquiet mind to seek the solace of 
bodily activity. He had hurried into Hyde 
Park, which then, in the dimness of night, 
appeared a wide expanse — a limitless waste. 
He hurried to and fro on the turf — he saw 
nothing — he was aware of nothing, except the 
internal war that shook him. Now, as he 
felt the eager desire to get quit of doubt, he 
fancied that several hours must have elapsed, 
and that his father must be waiting for him. 
The clocks of London struck— he counted — it 
was but eleven — he had been there scarcely 
more than an hour. 



20 FALKNER, 






. 



CHAPTER II, 



Neville returned home — he paused at the 
drawing-room door — a slight noise indicated 
that his father was within — his hand was on 
the lock, but he retreated ; he would not 
intrude uncalled for — he wandered through 
the dark empty rooms, till a bell rang. Sir 
Boyvill inquired for him — he hurried into 
his presence — he devoured the expression of 
his countenance with his eyes, trying to read 
the thought within. Sir Boyvill's face was 
usually stamped with an unvarying expression 
of cold self-possession, mingled with sarcasm. 



FALKNER. 21 

These feelings were now at their height — 
his aged countenance, withered and deep 
lined, was admirably calculated to depict the 
concentrated disdain that sat upon his lips 
and elevated his brows. He pointed to the 
papers before him, and said in a composed, 
yet hollow voice, " Take these away — read, 
for it is necessary you should — the amplified 
confession of the murderer.'' 

Gerard's blood ran cold. " Yet why call 
it a confession," continued Sir Boyvill, his 
assumed contempt rising into angry scorn; 
" from the beginning to the end it is a lie. He 
would varnish over his unparalleled guilt — 
he would shelter himself from its punishment, 
but in vain. Head, Gerard — read and be 
satisfied. I have wronged your mother — she 
was innocent — murdered. Be assured that 
her vindication shall be heard as loudly as her 
accusation, and that her destroyer shall die to 
expiate her death." 

" Be that my task," said Gerard, trembling 



22 FALKNER. 

and pale from the conflict of passion; " I 
take the office of vengeance on myself — I will 
meet Mr. Falkner." 

" Ha ! you think of a duel !" cried his father. 
" Remember your promise, young man — I hold 
you strictly to it — you do nothing without first 
communicating with me. You must read 
these papers before you decide ; I have de- 
cided — be not afraid, I shall not forestall your 
purpose, I will not challenge the murderer ; 
but, in return for this pledge, give me your 
word that you have no communication with 
the villain till you see me again. I will not 
baulk you of your revenge, be sure of that ; but 
you must see me first." 

" I promise" — said Gerard. 

" And one word more," continued Sir Boy- 
vill ; "Is there any possibility of this man's 
escape ? Is he wrapped in the security which his 
lie affords, or has he even now fled beyond 
our vengeance?" 

" Be his crimes what they may," replied 



FALKNER. 23 

Neville, " I believe him to entertain a deli- 
cate sense of worldly honour. He has pro- 
mised to remain in his home till he hears from 
me. He doubtless expects to be challenged, 
and I verily believe desires to die. I feel con- 
vinced that the idea of flight has not crossed 
his mind." 

" Enough ; good night. We are now one, 
Gerard ; united by our love and honour for 
your wronged mother's memory, and by our 
revenge ; dissimilar only in this, that my desire 
to repair her injuries is more vehement even 
than yours." Sir Boyvill pressed his son's 
hand, and left him. A few minutes afterwards, 
it would seem, he quitted the house. 

" Now to my task, " thought Neville ; "and 
oh, thou God, who watchest over the innocent, 
and yet gavest the innocent into the hands of 
the destroyer, rule thou the throbbings of mv 
heart; that neither mad hate, nor hunger for 
revenge, take away my human nature, and 
turn me into a fiend !" 



24 FALKNER. 

He took up the manuscript ; at first the 
words seemed written in fire, but he grew 
calmer as he found how far back the narration 
went ; and curiosity succeeding to devouring 
impatience, he became attentive. 

He read and pitied. All that awoke Sir 
Boyvill's ire ; Falkner's presumption in daring 
to love, and his long-cherished constancy, 
excited his compassion. When he came to 
the account of the meeting of the forsaken 
lover and happy husband, he found, in the 
epithets so liberally bestowed in the contemp- 
tuous description of his father, a cause for his 
augmented desire for vengeance. When he 
read that his mother herself repined, herself 
spoke disparagingly of her husband, he won- 
dered at the mildness of Sir Boyvill's expres- 
sions with regard to her, and began to suspect 
that some strange and appalling design must 
be working in his head to produce this un- 
natural composure. The rest was madness, 
madness and misery, thus to take a wife and 



PALKNER. 25 

mother from her home, to gratify the insane 
desire to exert for one half hour a power he 
had lost for ever; the vain hope of turning her 
from her duties, which at least, as far as her 
children were concerned, were the dearest 
part of herself; her terror, her incapacity of 
mastering her alarm, the night of insensibility 
which she passed in the hut — with a start, 
Gerard felt sure that he had seen and marked 
that very spot; all wrought him up to the 
height of breathless interest ; till, when he 
read the sad end of all, cold dew gathered on 
his brow, the tears that filled his eyes changed 
to convulsive sobbings, and, despite his man- 
hood, he wept with the agony of a child. 

He ended the tale, and he thought — "Yes, 
there is but one termination to this tragedy ; 
I must avenge my sweet mother, and, by the 
death of Falkner, proclaim her innocence. 
But wherefore, it came across his mind, had 
his father called him murderer? in intention 
and very deed he was none ; why term the 

vol. iii„ c 



26 FALKNER. 

narrative a lie. He followed it word by word, 
and felt that truth was stamped in every line. 
The house was still ; it was two in the 
morning. Had his father retired to rest? 
He had been so absorbed by his occupation, 
that he had heard no sound, knew nothing 
that might have been passing around. He 
remembered at last Sir BoyvilFs Good night, 
and believing, as all was hushed, that all 
slept, he retired to his own room. He could 
not think of Elizabeth, or of the projected 
duel ; he could think only of the narrative he 
had read. When in bed, unable to sleep, he 
rose, lighted his candle, and read much of it 
again : he pondered over every word in the 
concluding pages ; it was all true, he would 
have staked his existence on the accuracy of 
every word : was it not stamped on Falkner's 
brow, as he had seen him but a few hours ago? 
sad, and worn with grief and suffering, but 
without the stain of concealed guilt, lofty in 
its very woe. It was break of day, just as 



FALKNER. 27 

Gerard was thinking of rising to find and 
consult with his father, that sleep crept 
unawares over him. Sleep will visit the 
young unbidden ; he had suffered so much 
fatigue of mind and body, that nature sought 
relief; sleep, at first disturbed, but soon pro- 
found and refreshing, steeped his distracted 
thoughts in peace, his wearied limbs in 
delightful repose. 

The morning was far advanced when he 
awoke, refreshed, ready to meet the necessities 
of the hour, grieved, but composed, sad, but 
strengthened and resolved. He inquired for 
his father, and heard, to his infinite astonish- 
ment, that he had left town ; he had set out 
in his travelling carriage at four that morning ; 
a note from him was put into Neville's hands. 
It contained few words : " Remember your 
engagement — that you take no steps, with 
regard to Mr. Falkner, till you have seen me. 
I am setting out for Dromore ; on my return, 
which will be speedy, I will communicate my 

c 2 



28 FALKNER. 

wishes, to which I do not doubt you will 
accede." 

Neville was startled ; he guessed at once 
Sir Boyvill's aim in the sudden journey ; — but 
was he not a fit partner in such an act ? ought 
he not to share in the duty of rendering 
honour to his mother's grave ? He felt that 
he ought to be at his father's side, and, order- 
ing his own chariot, set out with the hope of 
overtaking him. 

But Sir Boyvill travelled with equal speed, 
and was many miles and many hours in ad- 
vance. Gerard hoped to come up with him when 
he stopped at night. But the old gentleman 
was so eager in his pursuit, that he prosecuted 
his journey without rest. Gerard continued 
in the same way; travelling alone, he revolved 
again and again all that must be, all that 
might have been. Whatever happened, he 
was divided from Elizabeth for ever. Did she 
love him ? he had scarcely questioned the 
return his affection would one day meet, till 



FALKNER. 29 

now that he had lost her for ever; and, like 
a true lover, earnestly desirous to preserve 
some property in her he loved, he cherished 
the hope that she would share his deep 
regrets, and so prove that in heart they were 
one. How pleasant were the days they had 
passed at Oakly ; all his sorrows there, and 
his passionate desire to unveil the mystery of 
his mother's fate, how had it given an interest 
to each hour, and imparted an untold and 
most sweet grace to the loved Elizabeth, that 
she should sympathize with so much fervour 
and kindness. 

How strange the chance that led the daughter 
of the destroyer to share the feelings of the 
unhappy victim's son ; yet stranger still that 
that destroyer had a child. Rambling among 
many tangled thoughts, Gerard started when 
first this idea suggested itself. Where was 
Falkner's boasted fidelity, on which he laid 
claim to compassion and pardon ; where his 
assertion, that all his soul was centred in Ali~ 



• 



30 FALKNER. 

thea? and this child, an angel from her birth, 
was even then born to him ; he opened the 
writing-case which contained the papers, and 
which he carried with him ; he referred to 
them for explanation. Yes, Elizabeth then 
lived, and was not far from him ; her hand 
had staid his arm, raised against his life. It 
was not enough that the frenzy of passion 
urged him to tear Alithea from her home and 
children, but even the existence of his own 
daughter was no restraint, he was willing to 
doom her from very childhood to a partner- 
ship in guilt and misery. Hitherto, despite 
all, and in despite of his resolve to meet him 
in mortal encounter, Neville had pitied Falk- 
ner ; but now his heart grew hard against him, 
he began to revolve thoughts similar to those 
expressed by Sir Boyvill, and to call Eliza- 
beth's father an impostor, his tale a lie. He 
re-read the manuscript with a new feeling of 
scepticism ; this time he was against the writer, 
he detected exaggeration, where, before, he had 



FALKNER. 31 

only found the energy of passion : he saw an 
attempt to gloss over guilt, where, before, he 
had read merely the struggles of conscience, 
the innate innocence of profound feeling, com- 
bating with the guilt, which circumstances 
may impart to our loftiest emotions ; his very 
sufferings became but the just visitation of 
angry Heaven ; he was a wretch, whom to kill 
were mercy — and Elizabeth, beautiful, gene- 
rous, and pure, was his child ! 



32 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER III. 



That night was spent in travelling, and 
without any sleep. Neville saw the daybreak in 
melancholy guise, struggling with the clouds, 
with which a south-east wind veiled the sky. 
Nature looked bleak and desolate, even though 
she was still dressed in her summer garments. 
It was only the latter end of August, but so 
changeable is our climate, that the bright 
festive days which he had lately enjoyed in 
Sussex, were already followed by chill and 
dreary precursors of the year's decline . Gerard 
reached Dromore at about noon. He learned 



FALKNER. 



33 



that his father had arrived during the night — 
he had slept a few hours, but was already 
gone out ; it appeared that he had ridden over 
to a neighbour, Mr. Ashley ; for he had in- 
quired if he were in the county, and had, with 
his groom, both on horseback, taken the road 
that led towards his house. 

Neville hastily took some refreshment, 
while he ordered a horse to be saddled. — His 
heart led him to seek and view a spot which 
he had once before visited, and which seemed 
accurately described in Falkner's narrative. 
He left behind him the woods of Dromore, 
and the foldings of the green hills in which 
it was situated — he descended towards the 
barren dreary shore — the roar of ocean soon 
met his ear, and he reached the waste sands 
that border that melancholy coast — he saw 
the line of sand-hills, which formed a sort of 
bulwark against the tide — he reached at length 
a rapid, yet shallow stream, which was but 
about twenty yards wide, flowing over a rough 

c 3 



34 FALKNER. 

bottom of pebbles ; the eye easily readied its 
utmost depth, it could not be more than two 
feet. Could that be the murderous, furious 
estuary in which his mother had been borne 
away? he looked across — there stood the hut 
— there the moss-grown, leafless oak, and 
gathered round it was a crowd of men. His 
father, and two or three other gentlemen on 
horseback, were stationed near — while some 
labourers were throwing up the sand beneath 
the withered trunk. When we have long- 
thought of and grieved over an incident — if 
any outward object bring the image of our 
thoughts bodily before us, it is strange what 
an accession of emotion stirs the depths of the 
heart. For many hours Neville's mind had 
dwelt upon the scene in all its parts — the 
wild waste sea, dark and purple beneath the 
lowering clouds — the dreary extent of beach 
—the far, stupendous mountains, thrown up 
in sublime, irregular grandeur, with cloud- 
capt peaks, and vast gulfs between — a sort of 



FALKNER. 35 

Cyclopean screen to the noble landscape, which 
they encompassed with their wide majestic 
extent — his reflections had selected the smaller 
objects — the river, the hut, the monumental 
tree ; and it seemed as if actual vision could 
not bring it home more truly ; but when he 
actually beheld these objects, and the very 
motive of his coming was revealed, as it were, 
by the occupation of the men at work, his 
young heart, unhardened by many sufferings, 
sickened, the tears rushed into his eyes, and 
the words — " my mother !" burst from his 
lips. It was a spasm of uncontrollable pain — 
an instant afterwards he had mastered it, and 
guiding his horse through the ford, with tran- 
quil mien, though pale and sad, he took his 
station abreast with his father. Sir Boyvill 
turned as he rode up ; he manifested no sur- 
prise, but he looked thankful, and even 
triumphant, Gerard thought ; and the young 
man himself, as he contemplated the glazed 
eyes and attenuated form of his parent, which 



36 FALKNER. 

spoke of the weight of years, despite his still 
upright carriage, and the stern expression of 
his face, felt that his right place was at his 
side, to render the support of his youthful 
strength, and active faculties. The men went 
on with their work in silence, nor did any 
speak ; the sand was thrown up in heaps, the 
horses pawed the ground impatiently, and the 
hollow murmurs of the neighbouring breakers 
filled every pause with sound, but no voice 
spoke ; or if one of the labourers had a direc- 
tion to give, it was done in whispers. At 
length some harder substance opposed their 
progress, and they worked more cautiously. 
Mingled with sand they threw out pieces of 
dark substance like cloth or silk, and at 
length got out of the wide long trench they 
had been opening. With one consent, though 
in silence, every one gathered nearer, and 
looked in — they saw a human skeleton. 
The action of the elements, which the sands 
had not been able 1 to impede, had destroyed 



FALKNER. 37 

every vestige of a human frame, except those 
discoloured bones, and long tresses of dark 
hair, which were wound around the skull. A 
universal yet suppressed groan burst from all. 
Gerard felt inclined to leap into the grave, 
but the thought of the many eyes all gazing, 
acted as a check ; and a second instinctive 
feeling of pious reverence induced him to 
unfasten his large black horseman's cloak, 
and to cast it over the opening. Sir Boyvill 
then broke the silence : " You have done 
well, my son ; let no man lift that covering, 
or in any way disturb the remains beneath. 
Do you know, my friends, who lies there ? 
Bo you remember the night when Mrs. Ne- 
ville was carried off? The country was raised, 
but we sought for her in vain. On that night 
she was murdered, and was buried here." 

A hollow murmur ran through the crowd, 
already augmented by several stragglers, who 
had heard that something strange was going 
on. All pressed forward, though but to see 



38 FALKNER. 

the cloak, now become an object of curiosity 
and interest. Several remembered the lady, 
whose mouldered remains were thus revealed, 
in the pride of youth and beauty, warm of 
heart, kind, beloved ; and this was all left of 
her ! these unseemly bones were all earth had 
to show of the ever sweet Alithea ! 

" Mr. Ashley kindly assists me," continued 
Sir Boyvill; "we are both magistrates. The 
coroner is already sent for, a jury will be 
summoned ; when that duty is performed, the 
remains of my unfortunate, much-wronged 
wife will be fitly interred. These ceremonies 
are necessary for the punishment of the 
murderer. We know him, he cannot escape; 
and you, every one of you, will rejoice in that 
vengeance which will be mine at last." 

Execrations against the villain burst from 
every lip ; yet even then each eye turned from 
old Sir Boyvill, whose vindictive nature had 
been showed before towards the hapless victim 
herself, to the young man, the son, whose grief 



FALKNER. 39 

and pious zeal had been the theme of many 
a gossip's story, and who now, pale and mute 
as he was, showed, in his intent and woe- 
struck gaze, more true touch of natural sor- 
row than Sir Boyvill's wordy harangue could 
denote. 

" We must appoint constables to guard this 
place," said Sir Boyvill. 

Mr. Ashley assented ; the proper arrange- 
ments were made ; the curious were to be 
kept off, and two servants from Dromore 
were added to the constables ; then the gen- 
tlemen rode off. Neville, bewildered, desi- 
rous to stay to look once again on what had 
been his mother, yet averse to the vulgar 
gaze, followed them at a slower pace, till 
Mr. Ashley, taking leave of Sir Boyvill, rode 
away, and he perceived that his father was 
waiting for him, and that he must join him. 

"Thank you, my son," said Sir Boyvill, 
" for your zeal and timely arrival. I expected 
it of you. We are one now; one to honour 



40 FALKNER. 

your mother; one in our revenge. You will 
not this time refuse your evidence." 

" Do you then believe that Mr. Falkner is 
actually a murderer?" cried Neville. 

" Let the laws of his country decide on that 
question," replied Sir JBoyvill, with a sneering 
laugh. " I bring forward the facts only, you 
do the same ; let the laws of his country, and 
a jury of his equals, acquit or condemn him." 

" Your design then is to bring him to a 
trial?" asked Gerard. " I should have thought 
that the publicity " 

" I design," cried Sir Boyvill, with uncon- 
trolled passion, "to bring him to a fate more 
miserable than his victim's ; and I thank 
all-seeing Heaven, which places such ample 
revenge in my hands. He will die by the 
hands of the hangman, and I shall be satis- 
fied." 

There was something horrible in the old 
man's look and voice ; he gloated on the foul 
disgrace about to be heaped on his enemy. 



FALKNER. 41 

The chivalrous notions of Gerard, a duel 
between the destroyer and his victim's son, 
was a paltry, trifling vengeance, compared 
with the ignominy he contemplated. " Was 
not the accusation against your mother loud," 
continued Sir Boyvill, "public, universal? 
Did not the assembled parliament pronounce 
upon her guilt, and decree her shame ? And 
shall her exculpation be hushed up and 
private ? I court publicity. A less august 
tribunal, but one whose decisions are no less 
widely circulated, shall proclaim her inno- 
cence. This idea alone would decide my 
course, if I could so far unman my soul as to 
forget that vengeance is due. Let it decide 
yours, if so much milk still mingle with your 
blood, that it sicken at the thought of justice 
against a felon. " 

Transported by rage, Sir Boyvill sought for 
words bitter and venomous enough to convey 
his meaning; and Neville discerned at once 
how much he was incensed by the language used 



42 FALKNER. 

with regard to him in Falkner's manuscript. 
Wounded vanity sought to ape injured feel- 
ings ; in such petty selfish passions, Gerard 
could take no share, and he observed : " Mr. 
Falkner is a gentleman. I confess that his 
narration has won belief from me. His crime, 
dressed in his own words, is frightful enough ; 
and heavily, if it be left to me, shall I visit it ; 
but the plan you adopt is too discordant with 
the habits of persons of our rank of life, for 
me to view it without aversion. There is 
another which I prefer adopting." 

"You mean," replied Sir Boyvill, "that 
you would challenge him, risk your life on 
the chance of taking his. Pardon me ; I can 
by no means acquiesce in the propriety of 
such an act. I look on the wrongs he has 
done us as depriving him of the right to be 
treated with courtesy ; nor do I wish him to 
add the death of my only son, to the list of 
the injuries I have sustained." 

The old man paused : his lip quivered — his 



FALKNER. 43 

voice dropped. Neville fancied that tender- 
ness of feeling caused these indications ; he 
was deceived; his father continued: "I am 
endeavouring so far to command myself as to 
speak with moderation. It is difficult to find 
words to express implacable hatred, so let 
that go by, and let us talk, since you can, and 
believe doubtless that I ought, calmly and 
reasonably. You would challenge this villain, 
this gentleman, as you name him. You would 
put your life on a par with his. He murdered 
your mother, and to repay me, you would die 
by the same hand. 

" If you speak the truth, if he possess a 
spark of those feelings, which, as a soldier, 
you have a right to believe may animate him, 
do you think that he would return your fire ? 
He raves about remorse in that tissue of 
infamous falsehoods which you put into my 
hands ; if he be human, he must have some 
touch of that; and he could not, if he would, 



44 FALKNER. 

raise his weapon against the child of poor 
Alithea. He will therefore refuse to meet 
you, or, meeting you, refuse to fire ; and 
either it will end in a farce for the amusement 
of the world, or you will shoot a defenceless 
man. I do not see the mercy of this pro- 
ceeding." 

" Of that, sir," said Neville, " we must 
take our chance." 

" I will take no chance," cried his father. 
" My unfortunate wife was borne off forcibly 
from her home ; you can bear witness to that. 
Two men carried her away, and no tidings ever 
again reached us of her fate. And now one of 
these men, the arch criminal, chooses to gloss 
over these circumstances, events as pleases 
him; tells his own story, giving it such graces 
of style as may dupe the inexperienced, and 
we are to rest satisfied, and say, It is so. The 
absurdity of such conduct would mark us as 
madmen. Enough of this ; I have reasoned 



FALKNER. 45 

with you as if the decision lay with me; when, 
in fact, I have no voice on the subject. It is 
out of my hands ; I have made it over to the 
law, and we can but stand by and view its 
course. I believe, and before Heaven and 
your country you must assert the same, that 
the remains we have uncovered, are all that 
is left us of your lost mother ; the clandestine 
burial at once declares the guilt of murder ; 
such must be the opinion of impartial judges, 
if I mistake not. I can interfere no further. 
The truth will be sifted by three juries ; this is 
no hole-and-corner vengeance ; let our enemy 
escape, in God's name, if they acquit him ; 
but if be be guilty, then let him die, as I 
believe he will, a felon's death." 

Sir Boyvill looked on his son with glassy 
eyes, but a sneering lip, that spoke of the cruel 
triumph he desired. " There is Ravenglass," 
he added, " there the coroner is summoned — 
there the court meets. We go to give our 
deposition. We shall not lie, nor pervert 



46 FALKNER. 

facts ; we tell who it was revealed to us your 
mother's unknown grave ; it rests with them 
to decide whether he, who by his own avowal 
placed her therein, has not the crime of 
murder on his soul." 



FALKNER. 47 



CHAPTER IV. 



Sir Boyvill quickened his pace ; Neville 
followed. He was still the same being who 
in his youth had been driven to the verge of 
insanity by the despotism of his father. His free 
and feeling heart revolted from arbitrary com- 
mands and selfishness. It was not only that 
his thoughts flew back, wounded and sore, to 
Elizabeth, and figured her agony ; but he 
detested the fierce and vulgar revenge of his 
father. It is true that he had seen Falkner, 
and in the noble, though tarnished, grandeur of 
his countenance, he had read the truth of the 



48 FALKNER. 

sad tale he related ; and he could not treat 
him with the contempt Sir Boyvill evinced ; to 
whom he was an image of the mind — unseei*, 
unfelt. And then Falkner had loved his 
mother ; nay more, she as a sister had loved 
him ; and faulty and cruel as had been his 
return for her kindness, he, through her, was 
endued with sacredness in his eyes. 

To oppose these softening feelings, came a 
sort of rage that Elizabeth was his child, that 
through him a barrier was raised to separate 
him from the chosen friend of his heart, the 
one sweet angel who had first whispered peace 
to his soul. The struggle was violent — he 
did not see how he could refuse his evidence 
at the inquest already summoned ; in every 
way his motives might be misunderstood, and 
his mother's fame might suffer. This idea 
became the victor — he would do all that he 
was called upon to do — to exculpate her ; the 
rest he must leave to the mysterious guidance 
of Providence. 



FALKNER. 49 

He arrived at the poverty-stricken town of 
Ravenglass — the legal authorities were as- 
sembled ; and while preliminaries were being- 
arranged, he was addressed by Sir Boyvill's 
solicitor, who asked him to relate what he 
knew, that his legal knowledge might assist 
in framing his evidence briefly, and conclu- 
sively. Neville recounted his story simply, 
confining himself as much as possible to the 
bare outline of the facts. The man of law 
was evidently struck by the new turn he gave 
to the tale ; for Sir Boyvill had unhesitatingly 
accused Falkner of murder. "This Falkner," 
he said, " had concealed himself for the space 
of thirteen years, till his accomplice Osborne 
was discovered — and till he heard of Gerard's 
perseverance in sifting the truth — then, fearful 
the tale might be disclosed in America, he 
came forward with his own narrative, which 
glossed over the chief crime, and yet, by re- 
vealing the burial-place of his victim, at once 
demonstrated the truth of the present accusa- 

VOL. III. D 



50 FALKNER. 

tion. It is impossible that the facts could 
have occurred as he represents them, plausible 
as his account is. Could a woman as timid as 
Alithea have rushed on certain death, as he 
describes ? Why should she have crossed the 
stream in its fury ? A bare half mile would 
have carried her to a cottage where she had 
been safe from Falkner's pursuit. What 
lady in a well-known country, where every 
face she met must prove a friend, but would 
not have betaken herself to the nearest vil- 
lage, instead of to an estuary renowned for 
danger. The very wetting her feet in a brook 
had terrified her — never could she have en- 
countered the roar of waves sufficient to over- 
whelm and destroy her." 

Such were the observations of Sir Boyvill ; 
and though Gerard, by his simple assertion 
that he believed Falkner's tale, somewhat 
staggered the solicitor, yet he could not 
banish his notion that a trial was the inevi- 
table and best mode of bringing the truth to 






FALKNER. 51 

light. The jury were now met, and Sir 
Boyvill gave such a turn to his evidence, as 
at once impressed them unfavourably towards 
the accused. In melancholy procession they 
visited poor Alithea's grave. A crowd of 
country people were collected about it — they 
did not dare touch the cloak, but gazed on it 
with curiosity and grief. Many remembered 
Mrs. Neville, and their rude exclamations 
showed how deeply they felt her injuries. 
"When I was ill," said an old woman, " she 
gave me medicine with her own hand." 
"When my son James was lost at sea," said 
another, " she came to comfort me, and 
brought young master Gerard — and cried, 
bless her ! When she saw me take on — rich 
and grand as she was, she cried for poor 
James, — and that she should be there now!" 
" My dear mistress," cried another, "never 
did she speak a harsh word to me — but for 
her, I could not have married — if she had 
lived, I had never known sorrow !" 

d 2 



52 FALKNER. 

Execrations against the murderer followed 
these laments. The arrival of the jury caused 
a universal murmur — the crowd was driven 
back — the cloak lifted from the grave — the 
men looked in; the skull, bound by her long 
hair — hair whose colour and luxuriance many 
remembered — attracted peculiar observation ; 
the women, as they saw it, wept aloud — frag- 
ments of her dress were examined, which yet 
retained a sort of identity, as silk or muslin 
— though stained and colourless. As further 
proof, among the bones were found a few orna- 
ments — among them, on the skeleton hand, were 
her wedding-ring, with two others — both of 
which were sworn to by Sir Boyvill as belong- 
ing to his wife. No doubt could exist con- 
cerning the identity of the remains; it was 
sacrilege to gaze on them a moment longer 
than was necessary — while each beholder, as 
they contemplated so much beauty and excel- 
lence reduced to a small heap of bones, abhor- 
rent to the eye, imbibed a heart-felt lesson on 



FALKNER- 



53 



the nothingness of life. Stout-hearted men 
wept — -and each bosom glowed with hatred 
against her destroyer. 

After a few moments the cloak was again 
extended — the crowd pressed nearer : the 
jury retired, and returned to Ravenglass. 
Neville's evidence was only necessary to prove 
the name and residence of the assassin — there 
was no hesitation about the verdict. That 
of wilful murder against Falkner was unhesi- 
tatingly pronounced — a warrant issued for his 
apprehension, and proper officers dispatched 
to execute it. 

The moment that the verdict was delivered, 
Sir Boyvill and his son rode back to Dromore. 
Mr. Ashley and the solicitor accompanied 
them — and all the ordinary mechanism of 
life, which intrudes so often for our good, so 
to jostle together discordant characters, and 
wear off poignant impressions, now forced 
Neville, who was desirous to give himself up 
to meditation, to abide for several hours in 



54 FALKNER. 

the society of these gentlemen. There was a 
dinner to be eaten — Mr. Ashley partook of it, 
and Gerard felt that his absence would be inde- 
corous. After dinner he was put to a trial — 
more severe to a sensitive, imaginative mind 
than any sharp strokes of common-place adver- 
sity. He was minutely questioned as to the ex- 
tent of his acquaintance with Falkner — how he 
came to form it, how often he had seen him — 
and what had drawn confession from him they 
named the criminal. These inquiries had 
been easily answered, but that the name of 
Elizabeth must be introduced — and, as he 
expected, at the mention of a daughter, a world 
of inquiry followed — and coarse remarks fell 
from his father's lips — which harrowed up his 
soul ; while he felt that he had no exculpation 
to offer, nor any explanation that might take 
from her the name and association of the child 
of a murderer. 

As soon as he could, he burst away. He 
rushed into the open air, and hurried to the 



FALKNER. 55 

spot where he could best combat with, and 
purify the rebellious emotions of his heart — 
none but the men placed as watch were near 
his mother's grave. Seeing the young squire, 
they retreated — and he who had come on foot 
at such quick pace, that he scarcely felt the 
ground he trod, threw himself on the sands, 
grateful to find himself alone with nature. 
The moon was hurrying on among the clouds 
— now bright in the clear ether, now darkened 
by heavy masses — and the mirroring ocean 
was sometimes alive with sparkling silver, 
now veiled and dim, so that you could hear, 
but not see, the breaking of the surge. 

An eloquent author has said, in contempt 
of such a being : " Try to conceive a man with- 
out the ideas of God and eternity ; of the good, 
the true, the beautiful, and the infinite." Ne- 
ville was certainly not such. There was poetry 
in his very essence, and enthusiasm for the 
ideal of the excellent, gave his character a 
peculiar charm, to anyone equally exalted and 



56 FALKNER. 

refined. His mother's decaying form lay be- 
neath the sands on which he was stretched, 
death was there in its most hideous form ; 
beauty, and even form had deserted that 
frame-work which once was the dear being, 
whose caresses, so warm and fond, it yet often 
thrilled him to remember. He had demanded 
from Heaven the revelation of his mother's 
fate, here he found it, here in the narrow grave 
lay the evidence of her virtues and her death ; 
— did he thank Heaven ? even while he did, he 
felt with bitterness that the granting of his 
prayer was inextricably linked with the ruin 
of a being, as good and fair as she, whose honour 
he had so earnestly desired to vindicate. 

He thought of all the sordid, vulgar, but 
heart-thrilling misery, which by his means was 
brought on Elizabeth ; and he sought his heart 
for excuses for the success for which he had 
pined. They came ready ; no desire of vulgar 
vengeance had been his, his motives had been 
exalted, his conduct straight-forward. The 



FALKNER. 



57 



divine stamp on woman is her maternal cha- 
racter — it was to prove that his idolized 
mother had not deserted the first and most 
sacred duty in the world, that had urged him — 
and he could not foresee that the innocent would 
suffer through his inquiries. The crime must 
fall on its first promoter — on Falkner's head 
must be heaped the consequences of his act ; 
all else were guiltless. — These reflections, how- 
ever, only served to cheat his wound of its 
pain for a time — again other thoughts recurred ; 
the realities, the squalid realities of the scene, 
in which she, miserable, was about to take a 
part. The thief- takers and the gyves — the 
prison, and the public ignominious trial — Falk- 
ner was to be subjected to all these indignities, 
and he well knew that his daughter would 
not leave his side. " And I, her son, the off- 
spring of these sainted bones — placed here by 
him — how can I draw near his child ! God 
have mercy on her, for man will have none !" 
Still he could not be satisfied. " Surely," 

d 3 



58 FALKNER. 

he thought, " something can be done, and 
something I will do. Already men are gone, 
who are to tear him from his home, and to 
deliver him up to all those vile contrivances 
devised for the coercion of the lowest of man- 
kind — she will accompany him, while I must 
remain here. To-morrow these remains will 
be conveyed to our house — on the following 
day they are to be interred in the family vault, 
and I must be present — I am tied, forced to 
inaction — the privilege of free action taken 
from me." 

Hope was awakened, however, as he pur- 
sued these thoughts, and recollected the gene- 
rous, kindly disposition of Lady Cecil, and her 
attachment to her young friend. He deter- 
mined to write to her. He felt assured that 
she would do all in her power to alleviate 
Elizabeth's sufferings — what she could do, he 
did not well understand — but it was a relief 
to him to take some step for the benefit of the 
devoted daughter. Bitterly, as he thought of 



FALKNER. 59 

these things, did he regret that he had ever 
seen Elizabeth ? So complicated was the web 
of event, that he knew not how to wish any 
event to have occurred differently; except, 
that he had not trusted to the hollow pre- 
tences of his father. He saw at once how 
the generous and petty-minded can never 
coalesce — he ought to have acted for himself, 
by himself; and miserable as in any case the 
end must have been, he felt that his own open, 
honourable revenge would have been less 
cruel in its effects, than the malicious pur- 
suit of his vindictive father. 



60 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER V. 



There is an impatient spirit in the young, 
that will not suffer them to take into conside- 
ration the pauses that occur between events. 
That which they do not see move, they believe 
to be stationary. Falkner was surprised by 
the silence of several days on the part of 
Neville ; but he did not the less expect and 
prepare for the time, when he should be called 
upon to render an account for the wrong he 
had done. Elizabeth, on the contrary, deemed 
that the scene was closed, the curtain fallen. 
What more could arise ? Neville had ob- 



FALKNER. 



61 



tained assurance of the innocence and mise- 
rable end of his mother. In some manner 
this would be declared to the world ; but the 
echo of such a voice would not penetrate the 
solitude in which she and her guardian were 
hereafter to live. Silence and exclusion were 
the signal and seal of discovered guilt — other 
punishment she did not expect. The name of 
Falkner had become abhorrent to all who 
bore any relationship to the injured Alithea. 
She had bid an eternal adieu to the domestic 
circle at Oakly — to the kind and frank-hearted 
Lady Cecil — and, with her, to Gerard. His 
mind, fraught with a thousand virtues — his 
heart, whose sensibility had awoke her ten- 
derness, were shut irrevocably against her. 

Did she love Gerard? This question never 
entered her own mind. She felt, but did not 
reason on, her emotions. — Elizabeth was 
formed to be alive to the better part of love. 
Her enthusiasm gave ideality, her affectionate 
disposition warmth, to all her feelings. She 



62 FALKNER. 

loved Falkner, and that with so much truth 
and delicacy, yet fervour of passion, that 
scarcely could her virgin heart conceive a 
power more absolute, a tie more endearing, 
than the gratitude she had vowed to him ; yet 
she intimately felt the difference that existed 
between her deep-rooted attachment for him 
she named and looked on as her father, and 
the spring of playful, happy, absorbing emo- 
tions that animated her intercourse with Ne- 
ville. To the one she dedicated her life and 
services ; she watched him as a mother may a 
child ; a smile or cheerful tone of voice were 
warmth and gladness to her anxious bosom, 
and she wept over his misfortunes with the 
truest grief. 

But there was more of the genuine attach- 
ment of mind for mind in her sentiment for 
Neville. Falkner was gloomy and self-ab- 
sorbed. Elizabeth might grieve for, but she 
found it impossible to comfort him. With 
Gerard it was far otherwise. Elizabeth had 



FALKNER. 63 

opened in his soul an unknown spring of 
sympathy, to relieve the melancholy which 
had hitherto overwhelmed him. With her he 
gave way freely to the impulses of a heart, 
which longed to mingle its hitherto checked 
stream of feeling with other and sweeter 
waters. In every way he excited her admi- 
ration as well as kindness. The poetry of 
his nature suggested expressions and ideas 
at once varied and fascinating. He led her 
to new and delightful studies, by unfolding 
to her the pages of the poets of her native 
country, with which she was little conversant. 
Except Shakspeare and Milton, she knew 
nothing of English poetry. The volumes of 
Chaucer and Spenser, of ancient date; of 
Pope, Gray, and Burns; and, in addition, the 
writings of a younger, but divine race of poets, 
were all opened to her by him. In music, 
also, he became her teacher. She was a fine 
musician of the German school. He intro- 
duced her to the simpler graces of song ; and 



64 FALKNER. 

brought her the melodies of Moore, so " mar- 
ried to immortal verse," that they can only 
be thought of conjointly. Oh the happy days 
of Oakly! How had each succeeding hour 
been gilded by the pleasures of a nascent pas- 
sion, of the existence of which she had never 
before dreamed — and these were fled for ever ! 
It was impossible to feel assured of so sad a 
truth, and not to weep over the miserable blight. 
Elizabeth commanded herself to appear cheer- 
ful, but sadness crept over her solitary hours. 
She felt that the world had grown, from being 
a copy of Paradise, into a land of labour and 
disappointment ; where self-approbation was 
to be gained through self-sacrifice; and duty 
and happiness became separate, instead of 
united objects at which to aim. 

From such thoughts she took refuge in the 
society of Falkner. She loved him so truly, 
that she forgot her personal regrets — she 
forgot even Neville when with him. Her 
affection for her benefactor was not a stagnant 



FALKNER. 65 

pool, mantled over by memories, existing in 
the depths of her soul, but giving no outward 
sign ; it was a fresh spring of ever-flowing 
love — it was redundant with all the better 
portion of our nature — gratitude, admiration, 
and pity, for ever fed it, as from a perennial 
fountain. 

It was on a day, the fifth after the disclo- 
sure of Falkner, that she had been taking her 
accustomed ride, and, as she rode, given herself 
up to all those reveries — now enthusiastic, 
now drooping and mournful — that sprung 
from her singular and painful position. She 
returned home, eager to forget in Falkner's 
society many a rebel thought, and to drive 
away the image of her younger friend, by gaz- 
ing on the wasted, sinking form of her bene- 
factor, in whose singularly noble countenance 
she ever found new cause to devote her for- 
tunes and her heart. To say that he was " not 
less than archangel ruined," is not to express 
the peculiar interest of Falkner's appearance. 



66 FALKNER. 

Thus had he seemed, perhaps, thirteen years 
before at Treby ; but gentle and kindly senti- 
ments, the softening intercourse of Elizabeth, 
the improvement of his intellect, and the 
command he had exercised over the demon- 
stration of passion, had moulded his face into 
an expression of benevolence and sweetness, 
joined to melancholy thoughtfulness ; an ab- 
stracted, but not sullen, seriousness, that ren- 
dered it interesting to every beholder. Since 
his confession to Neville, since the die was cast, 
and he had delivered himself up to his fate, 
to atone for his victim, something more was 
added ; exalted resolution, and serene lofty 
composure had replaced his usual sadness; and 
the passions of his soul, which had before 
deformed his handsome lineaments, now ani- 
mated them with a beauty of mind, which 
struck Elizabeth at once with tenderness and 
admiration. 

Now, longing to behold, to contemplate, this 
dear face, and to listen to a voice that always 



FALKNER. 67 

charmed her out of herself, and made her for- 
get her sorrows — she was disappointed to find 
his usual sitting-room empty — it appeared 
even as if the furniture had been thrown into 
disorder; there were marks of several dirty 
feet upon the carpet ; on the half- written letter 
that lay on the desk, the pen had hastily been 
thrown, blotting it. Elizabeth wondered a 
little, but the emotion was passing away, when 
the head servant came into the room, and in- 
formed her, that his master had gone out, and 
would not return that night. 

"Not to night !" exclaimed Elizabeth ; "what 
has happened ? who have been here ?" 

"Two men, miss." 

"Men! gentlemen?" 

" No, miss, not gentlemen." 

" And my father went away with them ?" 

"Yes, miss," replied the man, "he did in- 
deed. He would not take the carriage ; he went 
in a hired postchaise. He ordered me to tell 



68 FALKNER. 

you, miss, that he would write directly, and 
let you know when you might expect him." 

' ' Strange, very strange is this ! " thought Eliza- 
beth. She did not know why she should be 
disturbed, but disquiet invaded her mind ; she 
felt abandoned and forlorn, and, as the shades 
of evening gathered round, even desolate. She 
walked from room to room, she looked from 
the window, the air was chill, and from the east, 
yet she repaired to the garden ; she felt restless 
and miserable ; — what could the event be that 
took Falkner away ? She pondered vainly. 
The most probable conjecture was, that he 
obeyed some summons from her own relations. 
At length one idea rushed into her mind, and 
she returned to the house, and rang for the 
servant. Falkner's wandering life had pre- 
vented his having any servant of long-tried 
fidelity about him — but this man was goocl- 
hearted 3 and respectable — he felt for his young- 
mistress, and had consulted with her maid as 



FALKNER. 69 

to the course they should take, under the 
present painful circumstances ; and had con- 
cluded that they should preserve silence as to 
what had occurred, leaving her to learn it 
from their master's expected letter. Yet the 
secret was in some danger, when, fixing her 
eyes on him, Elizabeth said, "Tell me truly, 
have you no guess what the business is that 
has taken your master away ?" 

The man looked confused ; but, like many 
persons not practised in the art of cross-ques- 
tioning, Elizabeth baulked herself, by adding 
another inquiry before the first was answered ; 
saying with a faltering voice, " Are you sure, 
Thompson, that it was not a challenge — a 
duel?" 

The domestic's face cleared up : " Quite 
certain, miss, it was no duel — it could not be— 
the men were not gentlemen." 

" Then," thought Elizabeth, as she dismissed 
the man, " I will no longer torment myself. It 
is evidently some affair of mere business that 



70 FALKNER. 

has called him away. I shall learn all to- 
morrow. " 

Yet the morrow and the next day came, 
and Falkner neither wrote nor returned. Like 
all persons who determine to conjecture no 
more, Elizabeth's whole time was spent in 
endeavouring to divine the cause of his pro- 
longed absence, and strange silence. Had any 
communication from Neville occasioned his 
departure? was he sent for to point out his 
victim's grave? That idea carried some 
probability with it; and Elizabeth's thoughts 
flew fast to picture the solitary shore, and the 
sad receptacle of beauty and love. Would 
Falkner and Neville meet at such an hour? 
without a clue to guide her, she wandered for 
ever in a maze of thought, and each hour 
added to her disquietude. She had not gone 
beyond the garden for several days, she was 
fearful of being absent when any thing might 
arise; but nothing occurred, and the mystery 
became more tantalizing and profound. 



FALKNER. 71 

On the third day she could endure the 
suspense no longer ; she ordered horses to be 
put to the carriage, and told the servant of 
her intention to drive into town, and to call 
on Falkner's solicitor, to learn if he had any 
tidings ; that he was ill she felt assured — where 
and how ? away from her, perhaps deserted by 
all the world : the idea of his sick-bed became 
intolerably painful; she blamed herself for 
her inaction, she resolved not to rest till she 
saw her father again. 

Thompson knew not what to say ; he hesi- 
tated, begged her not to go ; the truth 
hovered on his lips, yet he feared to give it 
utterance. Elizabeth saw his confusion ; it 
gave birth to a thousand fears, and she 
exclaimed, "What frightful event are you 
concealing? Tell me at once. Great God! 
why this silence ? Is my father dead ?" 

"No, indeed, miss," said the man, "but my 
master is not in London, he is a long way off. 
I heard he was taken to Carlisle." 



72 FALKNER. 

" Taken to Carlisle! Why taken ? What 
do you mean?'' 

" There was a charge against him, miss;" 
Thompson continued, hesitating at every word, 
" the men who came — they apprehended him 
for murder." 

"Murder!" echoed his auditress ; "then 
they fought! Gerard is killed!" 

The agony of her look made Thompson 
more explicit. " It was no duel," he said, 
" it was done many years ago ; it was a lady 
who was murdered, a Mrs. or Lady Neville." 

Elizabeth smiled — a painful, yet a genuine 
smile ; so glad was she to have her worst fears 
removed, so futile did the accusation appear ; 
the smile passed away, as she thought of the 
ignominy, the disgraceful realities of such a 
process ; — of Falkner torn from his home, 
imprisoned, a mark for infamy. Weak minds 
are stunned by a blow like this, while the 
stronger rise to the level of the exigency, and 
grow calm from the very call made upon their 



FALKNER. 73 

courage. Elizabeth might weep to remember 
past or anticipated misfortunes, but she was 
always calm when called upon to decide and act ; 
her form seemed to dilate, her eyes flashed with 
a living fire, her whole countenance beamed 
with lofty and proud confidence in herself. 
" Why did you not tell me this before !" she 
exclaimed. " What madness possessed you to 
keep me in ignorance ? How much time has 
been lost ! Order the horses ! I must begone 
at once, and join my father." 

"He is in gaol, miss," said Thompson. 
" I beg your pardon, but you had better see 
some friend before you go." 

k< I must decide upon that," replied Eliza- 
beth. " Let there be no delay on your part, 
you have caused too much. But the bell 
rings ; — did I not hear wheels ? perhaps he is 
returned." She rushed to the outer door ; she 
believed that it was her father returned ; the 
garden gate opened — two ladies entered ; one 
was Lady Cecil. In a moment Elizabeth felt 

VOL. III. E 



74 FALKNER. 

herself embraced by her warm-hearted friend ; 
she burst into tears. "This is kind, more 
than kind!" she exclaimed ; "and you bring 
good news, do you not ? My father is libe- 
rated, and all is again well ! " 



FALKNER. 75 



CHAPTER VI. 



The family of Raby must be considered 
collectively, as each member united in one 
feeling, and acted on one principle. They were 
Catholics, and never forgot it. They were not 
bent on proselytism ; on the contrary, they 
rather shunned admitting strangers into their 
circle ; but they never ceased to remember 
that they belonged to the ancient faith of the 
land, and looked upon their fidelity to the 
tenets of their ancestors as a privilege, and a 
distinction far more honourable than a patent 
of nobility. Surrounded by Protestants, and 

e 2 



76 FALKNER. 

consequently, as they believed, by enemies, it 
was the aim of their existence to keep their 
honour unsullied ; and that each member of 
the family should act for the good and glory 
of the whole, unmindful of private interests, 
and individual affections. The result of such 
a system may be divined. The pleasures of 
mediocrity — toiling merit — the happy home — 
the cheerful family union, where smiles glitter 
brighter than gold ; all these were unknown 
or despised. Young hearts were pitilessly 
crushed ; young hopes blighted without re- 
morse. The daughters were doomed, for the 
most part, to the cloister ; the sons to foreign 
service. This indeed was not to be attributed 
entirely to the family failing — -a few years ago, 
English Catholics were barred out from every 
road to emolument and distinction in their 
native country. 

Edwin Raby had thus been sacrificed. His 
enlightened mind disdained the trammels 
thrown over it ; but his apostacy doomed him 



FALKNER. 77 

to become an outcast. He had previously been 
the favourite and hope of his parents ; from 
the moment that he renounced his religion, 
he became the opprobrium. His name was 
never mentioned ; and his death hailed as a 
piece of good fortune, that freed his family 
from a living disgrace. The only person 
among them who regretted him, was the wife 
of his eldest brother ; she had appreciated his 
talents and virtues, and had entertained a sin- 
cere friendship for him ; — but even she re- 
nounced him. Her heart, naturally warm and 
noble, was narrowed by prejudice ; but while 
she acted in conformity with the family prin- 
ciple, she suffered severely from the shock 
thus given to her better feelings. When Ed- 
win died, her eyes were a little opened ; she 
began to suspect that human life and human 
suffering deserved more regard than articles 
of belief. The "late remorse of love" was 
awakened, and she never wholly forgot the 
impression. She had not been consulted con- 



78 FALKNER. 

cerning, she knew nothing of, his widow and 
orphan child. Young at that time, the weight 
of authority pressed also on her, and she had 
been bred to submission. There was a latent 
energy, however, in her character that de- 
veloped itself as she grew older. Her hus- 
band died, and her consequence increased in 
old Oswi Raby's eyes. By degrees her au- 
thority became paramount ; it was greatly 
regulated by the prejudices and systems che- 
rished by the family, as far as regarded the 
world in general ; but it was softened in her 
own circle by the influence of the affections. 
Her daughters were educated at home — 
not one was destined for the cloister. Her 
only son was brought up at Eton ; the privi- 
leges granted of late years to the Catholics, 
made her entertain the belief, that it was no 
longer necessary to preserve the old defences 
and fortifications, which intolerance had forced 
its victims to institute ; still pride — pride of 
religion, pride of family, pride in an unble- 



FALKNER. 79 

mished name, were too deeply rooted, too care- 
fully nurtured, not to form an integral part of 
her character. 

When a letter from her father-in-law re- 
vealed to her the existence of Elizabeth, her 
heart warmed towards the orphan and de- 
serted daughter of Edwin. She felt all the 
repentance which duties neglected bring on a 
well-regulated mind — her pride revolted at 
the idea that a daughter of the house of Raby 
was dependent on the beneficence of a stranger 
— she resolved that no time should be lost in 
claiming and receiving her, even while she 
trembled to think of how, brought up as an 
alien, she might prove rather a burthen than 
an acquisition. She had written to make in- 
quiries as to her niece's abode. She heard 
that she was on a visit, at Lady Cecil's, at 
Hastings — Mrs. Raby was at Tunbridge — she 
instantly ordered horses, and proceeded to 
Oakly. 

On the morning of her visit, Lady Cecil had 



80 FALKNER. 

received a letter from Gerard : it was inco- 
herent, and had been written by snatches in 
the carriage on his way to Dromore. Its first 
words proclaimed his mother's innocence, and 
the acknowledgment of her wrongs by Sir 
Boyvill himself. As he went on, his pen 
lingered — he trembled to write the words, 
" Our friend, our Elizabeth, is the daughter 
of the destroyer." It was unnatural, it was 
impossible — the very thought added acrimony 
to his detestation of Falkner — it prevented the 
compassion his generous nature would other- 
wise have afforded, and yet roused every wish 
to spare him, as much as he might be spared, 
for his heroic daughter's sake. He felt de- 
ceived, trepanned, doomed. In after-life we 
are willing to compromise with fate — to take 
the good with the bad — and are satisfied if we 
can at all lighten the burthen of life. In 
youth we aim at completeness and perfection. 
Ardent and single-minded, Neville disdained 
prejudices; and his impulse was, to separate 



FALKNER. 81 

the idea of father and daughter, and to cherish 
Elizabeth as a being totally distinct from her 
parentage. But she would not yield to this 
delusion — she would cling to her father — and 
if he died by his hand/ he would for ever be- 
come an object of detestation. Well has Alfieri 
said, " There is no struggle so vehement as 
when an upright, but passionate, heart is 
divided between inclination and duty." Ne- 
ville's soul was set upon honour and well- 
doing ; never before had he found the execu- 
tion of the dictates of his conscience so full of 
bitterness and impatience. Something of these 
feelings betrayed themselves in his letter. — 
" We have lost Elizabeth," he wrote ; " for 
ever lost her! Is there no help for this? No 
help for her? None! She clings to the de- 
stroyer's side, and shares his miserable fate — 
lost to happiness — to the innocence and sun- 
shine of life. She will live a victim, and die 
a martyr, to her duties ; and she is lost to us 
for ever!" 

e 3 



82 FALKNER. 

Lady Cecil read again and again — she 
wondered — she grieved — she uttered im- 
patient reproaches against Gerard for having 
sought the truth ; and yet her heart was 
with him, and she rejoiced in the acknow- 
ledged innocence of Alithea. She thought of 
Elizabeth with the deepest grief — had they 
never met — had she and Gerard never 
seen each other, neither had loved, and half 
this woe had been spared. How strange and 
devious are the ways of fate — how difficult to 
resign oneself to its mysterious and destructive 
course ! Naturally serene, though vivacious — 
kind-hearted, but not informed with trembling 
sensibility — yet so struck was Lady Cecil by 
the prospects of misery for those she best 
loved, that she wept bitterly, and wrung her 
hands in impatient, impotent despair. At 
this moment Mrs. Raby was announced. 

Mrs. Raby had something of the tragedy 
queen in her appearance. She was tall, and 
dignified in person. Her black full eyes 



FALKNER. 83 

were melancholy — her brow shadowing them 
over had a world of thought and feeling 
in its sculpture-like lines. The lower part 
of her face harmonized, though something 
of pride lurked about her beautiful mouth 
— her voice was melodious, but deep-toned. 
Her manners had not the ease of the well- 
bred Lady Cecil — something of the outcast 
was imprinted upon them, which imparted 
consciousness, reserve, and alternate timidity 
and haughtiness. There was nothing em- 
barrassed, however, in her mien, and she asked 
at once for Elizabeth with obvious impatience. 
She heard that she was gone with regret. 
The praises Lady Cecil almost involuntarily 
showered on her late guest, at once dissipated 
this feeling ; and caused her, with all the 
frankness natural to her, to unfold at once 
the object of her visit — the parentage of the 
orphan — the discovery of her niece. Lady 
Cecil clasped her hands in a transport, which 
was not all joy. There was so much of wonder, 



84 FALKNER. 

almost of disbelief, at the strange tale — had 
a fairy's wand operated the change, it had not 
been more magical in her eyes. Heaven's 
ways were vindicated — all of evil vanished 
from the scene — her friend snatched from 
ignominy and crime, to be shrined for ever 
in their hearts and love. 

She poured out these feelings impetuously. 
Mrs. Raby was well acquainted with Alithea's 
story, and was familiar with Gerard Neville's 
conduct ; all that she now heard was strange 
indeed. She did not imbibe any of Lady 
Cecil's gladness, but much of her eagerness. 
It became of paramount importance in her 
mind to break at once the link between 
Elizabeth and, her guardian, before the story 
gained publicity, and the name of Raby be- 
came mingled in a tale of horror and crime, 
which, to the peculiar tone of Mrs. Raby's 
mind, was singularly odious and disgraceful. 
No time must be lost — Elizabeth must be 
claimed — must at once leave the guilty and 



FALKNER. 85 

tainted one, while yet her name received no 
infection ; or she would be disowned for ever 
by her father's family. When Lady Cecil 
learned Mrs. Raby's intention of proceeding 
to London to see her niece, she resolved to go 
also, to act as mediator, and to soften the style 
of the demands made, even while she per- 
suaded Elizabeth to submit to them. She 
expressed her intention, and the ladies agreed 
to travel together. Both were desirous of 
further communication. Lady Cecil wished 
to interest Mrs. Raby still more deeply in her 
matchless kinswoman's splendid qualities of 
heart and mind ; while Mrs. Raby felt that 
her conduct must be founded on the character 
and worth of her niece ; even while she 
was more convinced at every minute, that 
no half measures would be permitted by Oswi 
Raby, and others of their family and connec- 
tion, and that Elizabeth's welfare depended 
on her breaking away entirely from her pre- 
sent position, and throwing herself unre- 



86 FALKNER. 

servedly upon the kindness and affection of 
her father's relations. 

Strange tidings awaited their arrival in 
London, and added to the eagerness of both. 
The proceedings of Sir Boyvill, the accusation 
of Falkner, and his actual arrest, with all its 
consequent disgrace, made each fear that it 
was too late to interpose. Mrs. Raby showed 
most energy. The circumstances were already 
in the newspapers, but there was no mention 
of Elizabeth. Falkner had been taken from 
his home, but no daughter accompanied him, 
no daughter appeared to have had any part in 
the shocking scene. Had Falkner had the 
generosity to save her from disgrace ? If so, 
it became her duty to co-operate in his mea- 
sures. Where Elizabeth had taken refuge, 
was uncertain ; but, on inquiry, it seemed that 
she was still at Wimbledon. Thither the 
ladies proceeded together. Anxiety possessed 
both to a painful degree. There was a mys- 
teriousness in the progress of events, which 



FALKNER. 87 

tliey could not unveil — all depended on a clear 
and a happy explanation. The first words, 
and first embrace of Elizabeth reassured her 
friend ; all indeed would be well, she restored 
to her place in society, and punishment would 
fall on the guilty alone. 



88 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER VII. 



The first words Elizabeth spoke, as she 
embraced Lady Cecil, "You are come, then 
all is well," seemed to confirm her belief that 
the offered protection of Mrs. Raby would 
sound to the poor orphan as a hospitable shore 
to the wrecked mariner. She pressed her 
fondly to her heart, repeating her own words, 
" All is well — dear, dear Elizabeth, you are 
restored to us, after I believed you lost for 
ever." 

" What then has happened ?" asked Eliza- 
beth ; " and where is my dear father?" 



FALKNER. 89 

" Your father ! Miss Raby," repeated a deep, 
serious, but melodious voice ; " whom do you 
call your father ?" 

Elizabeth, in her agitation, had not caught 
her aunt's name, and turned with surprise to 
the questioner, whom Lady Cecil introduced-as 
one who had known and loved her real father ; 
as her aunt, come to offer a happy and honour- 
able home — and the affection of a relative, to 
one so long lost, so gladly found. 

"We have come to carry you off with us," 
said Lady Cecil; "your position here is 
altogether disagreeable ; but every thing is 
changed now, and you will come with us." 

" But my father," cried Elizabeth ; " for 
what other name can I give to my benefactor ? 
Dear Lady Cecil, where is he?" 

" Do you not then know?" asked Lady 
Cecil, hesitatingly." 

"This very morning I heard something 
frightful, heart-breaking; but since you are 
here, it must be all a fiction, or at least 



90 FALKNER. 

the dreadful mistake is put right. Tell me, 
where is Mr. Falkner?" 

" I know less than you, I believe," replied 
her friend ; " my information is only gathered 
from the hasty letters of my brother, which 
explain nothing.'' 

" But Mr. Neville has told you,"' said 
Elizabeth, " that my dear father is accused 
of murder ; accused by him who possesses the 
best proof of his innocence. I had thought 
Mr. Neville generous, unsuspicious" 

" Nor is it he," interrupted Lady Cecil, 
M who brings this accusation. I tell you 
I know little ; but Sir Boyvill is the origin of 
Mr. Falkner's arrest. The account he read 
seemed to him unsatisfactory, and the remains 
of poor Mrs. Neville. — Indeed, dear Elizabeth, 
you must not question me, for I know nothing; 
much less than you. Gerard puts much 
faith in the innocence of Mr. Falkner." 

" Bless him for that !" cried Elizabeth, 
tears gushing into her eyes. " Oh yes, I knew 



FALKNER. 91 

that he would be just and generous. My 
poor, poor father! by what fatal mistake is 
your cause judged by one incapable of under- 
standing or appreciating you." 

"Yet," said Lady Cecil, "he cannot be 
wholly innocent ; the flight, the catastrophe, 
the concealment of his victim's death; — is there 
not guilt in these events?" 

" Much, much ; I will not excuse or ex- 
tenuate. If ever you read his narrative, 
which, at his desire, I gave Mr. Neville, you 
will learn from that every exculpation he can 
allege. It is not for me to speak, nor to hear 
even of his past errors; never was remorse more 
bitter, contrition more sincere. But for me, 
he had not survived the unhappy lady a week ; 
but for me, he had died in Greece, to expiate 
his fault. Will not this satisfy his angry 
accusers ? 

" I must act from higher motives. Grati- 
tude, duty, every human obligation bind me 
to him. He took me, a deserted orphan, from 



92 FALKNER. 

a state of miserable dependence on a grudging, 
vulgar woman; he brought me up as his 
child ; he was more to me than father ever 
was. He has nursed me as my own mother 
would in sickness ; in perilous voyages he has 
carried me in his arms, and sheltered me from 
the storm, while he exposed himself for my 
sake ; year after year, while none else have 
cared for, have thought of me, I have been 
the object of his solicitude. He has consented 
to endure life, that I might not be left deso- 
late, when I knew not that one of my father's 
family would acknowledge me. Shall I desert 
him now? Never!" 

" But you cannot help him," said Lady 
Cecil ; " he must be tried by the laws of his 
country. I hope he has not in truth offended 
against them ; but you cannot serve him." 

" Where is he ?" dear Lady Cecil ; " tell me 
where he is ?" 

" I fear there can be no doubt he is in 
prison at Carlisle." 



FALKNER. 93 

" And do you think that I cannot serve him 
there ? in prison as a criminal! Miserable as his 
fate makes me, miserable as I too well know 
that he is, it is some compensation to my selfish 
heart to know that I can serve him, that I can 
be all in all of happiness and comfort to him. 
Even now he pines for me ; he knows that I 
never leave his side when in sorrow ; he won- 
ders I am not already there. Yes, in prison, in 
shame, he will be happy when he sees me 
again. I shall go to him, and then, too, I 
shall have comfort." 

She spoke with a generous animation, while 
yet her eyes glistened, and her voice trembled 
with emotion. Lady Cecil was moved, while 
she deplored ; she caressed her; she praised, 
while Mrs. Raby said, "It is impossible not 
to honour your intentions, which spring from 
so pure and noble a source. I think, indeed, 
that you overrate your obligations to Mr. 
Falkner. Had he restored you to us after 
your mother's death, you would have found, 



94 FALKNER. 

I trust, a happy home with me. He adopted 
you, because it best pleased him so to do. He 
disregarded the evil he brought upon us by so 
doing ; and only restored you to us when the 
consequence of his crimes prevented him from 
being any longer a protection." 

" Pardon me," said Elizabeth, " if I inter- 
rupt you. Mr. Falkner is a suffering, he 
believed himself to be a dying, man ; he lived 
in anguish till he could declare his error, 
to clear the name of his unhappy victim ; he 
wished first to secure my future lot, before he 
dared fate for himself; chance altered his 
designs ; such were his motives, generous 
towards me as they ever were." 

"And you, dear Elizabeth," said Lady Cecil, 
"must act in obedience to them and to his 
wishes. He anticipated disgrace from his 
disclosures, a disgrace which you must not 
share. You speak like a romantic girl of 
serving him in prison. You cannot guess 
what a modern gaol is, its vulgar and 



FALKNER. 95 

shocking inhabitants: the hideous language 
and squalid sights are such, that their very 
existence should be a secret to the innocent : 
be assured that Mr. Falkner, if he be, as I 
believe him, a man of honour and delicacy, 
will shudder at the very thought of your 
approaching such contamination ; he will be 
best pleased to know you safe and happy with 
your family." 

"What a picture do you draw!" cried Eliza- 
beth, trying to suppress her tears; "my poor, 
poor father, whose life hangs by a thread ! 
how can he survive the accumulation of evil ? 
But he will forget all these horrors when I 
am with him. I know, thank God, I do 
indeed know, that I have power to cheer and 
support him, even at the worst." 

" This is madness!" observed Lady Cecil, in 
a tone of distress. 

Mrs. Raby interposed with her suggestions. 
She spoke of her own desire, the desire of all 
the family, to welcome Elizabeth ; she told 



96 FALKNER. 

her that with them, belonging to them, she 
had new duties ; her obedience was due to her 
relatives ; she must not act so as to injure 
them. She alluded to their oppressed religion ; 
to the malicious joy their enemies would have 
in divulging such a tale as that would be, if 
their niece's conduct made the whole course 
of events public. And, as well as she could, 
she intimated that if she mixed up her name 
in a tale so full of horror and guilt, her 
father's family could never after receive 
her. 

Elizabeth heard all this with considerable 
coldness. " It grieves me," she said, " to 
repay intended kindness with something like 
repulse. I have no wish to speak of the past; 
nor to remind you that if I was not brought up 
in obedience to you all, it was because my father 
was disowned, my mother abandoned ; and I, a 
little child, an orphan, was left to live and die in 
dependence. I, who then bore your name, had 
become a subject of niggard and degrading 



FALKNER. 97 

charity. Then, young as I was, I felt grati- 
tude, obedience, duty, all due to the gene- 
rous benefactor who raised me from this 
depth of want, and made me the child of his 
heart. It is a lesson I have been learning 
many years ; I cannot unlearn it now. I am 
his ; bought by his kindness ; earned by his 
unceasing care for me, I belong to him — his 
child — if you will, his servant — I do not 
quarrel with names — a child's duty I pay him, 
and will ever. Do not be angry with me, dear 
aunt, if I may give you that name — dearest 
Lady Cecil, do not look so imploringly on me — 
I am very unhappy. Mr. Falkner, a prisoner, 
accused of the most hideous crime — treated 
with ignominy — he whose nerves are agonized 
by a touch — whose frame is even now decay- 
ing through sickness and sorrow — and I, and 
every hope, away. I am very unhappy. Do 
not urge me to what is impossible, and thrice, 
thrice wicked. I must go to him ; day and 
night I shall have no peace till I am at his side ; 

VOL. III. F 



OR FALKNER. 

do not, for my sake do not, dispute this sacred 
duty." 

It was not thus that the two ladies could be 
led to desist ; they soothed her, but again 
returned to the charge. Lady Cecil brought 
a thousand arguments of worldly wisdom, of 
feminine delicacy. Mrs. Raby insinuated the 
duty owed to her family, to shield it from the dis- 
grace she was bringing on it. They both insisted 
on the impossibility, on the foolish romance of 
her notions. Had she been really his daughter, 
her joining him in prison was impracticable — 
out of all propriety. But Elizabeth had been 
brought up to regard feelings, rather than con- 
ventional observances ; duties, not proprieties. 
All her life Falkner had been law, rule, every 
tie to her; she knew and felt nothing beyond. 
When she had followed him to Greece — when 
she had visited the Morea, to bear him dying 
away — when at Zante she had watched by his 
sick couch, the world, and all the Rabys it 
contained, were nothing to her; and now, 



FALKNER. 99 

when he was visited by a far heavier calamity, 
when in solitude and .misery, he had besides 
her, no one comfort under heaven, was she to 
adopt a new system of conduct, become a 
timid, home-bred young lady, tied by the 
most frivolous rules, impeded by fictitious no- 
tions of propriety and false delicacy ? Whether 
they were right, and she were wrong — whether 
indeed such submission to society — such use- 
less, degrading dereliction of nobler duties, was 
adapted for feminine conduct, and whether she, 
despising such bonds, sought a bold and dan- 
gerous freedom, she could not tell ; she only 
knew and felt, that for her, educated as she 
had been, beyond the narrow paling of board- 
ing-school ideas, or the refinements of a lady's 
boudoir, that, where her benefactor was, there 
she ought to be ; and that to prove her grati- 
tude, to preserve her faithful attachment to him 
amidst dire adversity, was her sacred duty — a 
virtue, before which every minor moral faded 
and disappeared. 

f2 



100 FALKNER. 

The discussion was long; and even when 
they found her proof against every attack, they 
would not give up. They entreated her to 
go home with them for that day. A wild light 
beamed from her eyes. " I am going home," 
she cried ; " an hour hence, and I shall be 
gone to where my true home is. How strange 
it is that you should imagine that I could 
linger here! 

" Be not afraid for me, dear Lady Cecil," 
she continued, " all will go well with me; 
and you will, after a little reflection, ac- 
knowledge that I could not act other than I 
do. And will you, Mrs. Raby, forgive my 
seeming ingratitude? I acknowledge the jus- 
tice of your demands. I thank you for your 
proposed kindness. The name of Raby shall 
receive no injury; it shall never escape my 
lips. My father will preserve the same silence. 
Be not angry with me ; but — except that I 
remember my dear parents with affection — I 
would say, I take more joy and pride in being 



FALKNER. 101 

his daughter — his friend at this need — than 
in the distinction and prosperity your kind- 
ness offers. I give up every claim on my 
family ; the name of Raby shall not be tainted : 
but Elizabeth Falkner, with all her wilfulness 
and faults, shall, at least, prove her gratitude 
to him who bestowed that appellation on her." 
And thus they parted. Lady Cecil veiling 
her distress in sullenness ; while Mrs. Raby 
was struck and moved by her niece's gene- 
rosity, which was in accordance with her own 
noble mind. But she felt that other judges 
would sit upon the cause, and decide from 
other motives. She parted from her as a 
Pagan relative might from a young Christian 
martyr — admiring, while she deplored her 
sacrifice, and feeling herself wholly incapable 
of saving. 



102 FALKNER 



CHAPTER VIII. 



Elizabeth delayed not a moment proceeding 
on her journey ; an exalted enthusiasm made 
her heart beat high, and almost joyously. This 
buoyancy of spirit, springing from a generous 
course of action, is the compensation provided 
for our sacrifices of inclination — and at least, 
on first setting out, blinds us to the sad results 
we may be preparing for ourselves. Elated by 
a sense of acting according to the dictates of 
her conscience, despite the horror of the cir- 
cumstances that closed in the prospect, her 
spirits were light, and her eyes glistened with 



FALKNER. 

a feeling at once triumphant and tender, while 
reflecting on the comfort she was bringing 
to her unfortunate benefactor. A spasm of 
horror seized her now and then, as the recol- 
lection pressed that he was in prison — accused 
as a murderer — but her young heart refused 
to be cowed, even by the ignominy and anguish 
of such a reflection. 

A philosopher not long ago remarked, when 
adverting to the principle of destruction latent 
in all works of art, and the overthrow of the 
most durable edifices ; " but when they are 
destroyed, so as to produce only dust, Nature 
asserts an empire over them ; and the vegeta- 
tive world rises in constant youth, and in a 
period of annual successions, by the labours 
of man, providing food, vitality and beauty 
adorn the wrecks of monuments, which were 
once raised for purposes of glory." Thus when 
crime and woe attack and wreck an erring 
human being, the affections and virtues of 
one faithfully attached, decorate the ruin with 



104 FALKNER. 

alien beauty ; and make that pleasant to the 
eye and heart, which otherwise we might turn 
from as a loathsome spectacle. 

It was a cold September day when she began 
her journey, and the solitary hours spent on 
the road exhausted her spirits. In the evening 
she arrived at Stony Stratford, and here, at 
the invitation of her servant, consented to 
spend the night. The solitary inn room, with- 
out a fire, and her lonely supper, chilled her ; 
so susceptible are we to the minor casualties 
of life, even when we meet the greater with 
heroic resolution. She longed to skip the 
present hour, to be arrived — she longed to 
see Falkner, and to hear his voice — she felt 
forlorn and deserted. At this moment the 
door was opened, "a gentleman" was an- 
nounced, and Gerard Neville entered. Love 
and nature at this moment asserted their full 
sway — her heart bounded in her bosom, her 
cheek flushed, her soul was deluged at once 
with a sense of living delight — she had never 



FALKNER. 



105 



thought to see him more — she had tried to 
forget that she regretted this; but he was 
there, and she felt that such a pleasure were 
cheaply purchased by the sacrifice of her ex- 
istence. He also felt the influence of the spell. 
He came agitated by many fears, perplexed by 
the very motive that led him to her — but she 
was there in all her charms, the dear object of 
his nightly dreams and waking reveries — hesi- 
tation and reserve vanished in her presence, 
and they both felt the alliance of their hearts. 
" Now that I am here, and see you," said 
Neville, " it seems to me the most natural 
thing in the world, that I should have followed 
you as I have done. While away, I had a 
thousand misgivings — and wherefore? did you 
not sympathize in my sufferings, and desire to 
aid me in my endeavours ; and I feel convinced 
that fate, while by the turn of events it appeared 
to disunite, has, in fact, linked us closer than 
ever. I am come with a message from Sophia 

f3 



106 FALKNER. 

— and to urge also, on my own part, a change 
in your resolves ; you must not pursue your 
present journey." 

"You have, indeed, been taking a lesson 
from Lady Cecil, when you say this," replied 
Elizabeth ; " she has taught you to be worldly 
for me — a lesson you would not learn on your 
own account — she did not seduce me in this 
way ; I gave you my support when you were 
going to America." 

Elizabeth began to speak almost sportively, 
but the mention of America brought to her 
recollection the cause of his going, and the 
circumstances that prevented him ; and the 
tears gushed from her eyes as she continued 
in a voice broken by emotion. "Oh, Mr. 
Neville, I smile while my heart is breaking— 
My dear, dear father ! What misery is this 
that you have brought on him — and how, while 
he treated you with unreserve, have you 
falsely — you must know— accused him of crime, 



FALKNER. 107 

and pursued your vengeance in a vindictive 
and ignominious manner ? It is not well 
done !" 

" I pardon your injustice," said Neville ; 
" though it is very great. One of my reasons 
for coming, was to explain the exact state 
of things, though I believed that your know- 
ledge of me would have caused you to reject 
the idea of my being a party to my father's 
feelings of revenge." 

Neville then related all that had passed ; — 
the discovery of his mother's remains in the 
very spot Falkner had indicated, and Sir 
Boyvill's resolve to bring the whole train of 
events before the public. " Perhaps," he 
continued, " my father believes in the justice 
of his accusation — he never saw Mr. Falkner, 
and cannot be impressed as I am by the tokens 
of a noble mind, which, despite his errors, 
are indelibly imprinted on his brow. At all 
events, he is filled with a sense of his own 
injuries — stung by the disdain heaped on him 



108 FALKNER. 

in that narration, and angry that he had been 
led to wrong a wife, the memory of whose 
virtues and beauty now revives, bitterly to 
reproach him. I cannot wonder at his con- 
duct, even while I deplore it : I do deplore 
it on your account ; — for Mr. Falkner, God 
knows I would have visited his crime in an- 
other mode ; yet all he suffers he has brought 
on himself — he must feel it due — and must 
bear it as best he may : forgive me if I seem 
harsh — I compassionate him through you — I 
cannot for his own sake." 

" How falsely do you reason," cried Eliza- 
beth, " and you also are swayed and perverted 
by passion. He is innocent of the hideous 
crime laid to his charge — you know and feel 
that he is innocent ; and were he guilty — I 
have heard you lament that crime is so hardly 
visited by the laws of society. I have heard 
you say, that even where guilt is joined to the 
hardness of habitual vice, that it ought to be 
treated with the indulgence of a correcting 



FALKNER. 109 

father, not by the cruel vengeance of the law. 
And now, when one whose very substance and 
flesh are corroded by remorse — one whose 
conscience acts as a perpetual scourge — one 
who has expiated his fault by many years 
spent in acts of benevolence and heroism ; 
this man, because his error has injured you, 
you, forgetting your own philosophy, would 
make over to a fate, which, considering who 
and what he is, is the most calamitous human 
imagination can conceive." 

Neville could not hear this appeal without 
the deepest pain. — " Let us forget," he at last 
said, " these things for a few minutes. They 
did not arise through me, nor can I prevent 
them ; indeed they are now beyond all human 
control. Falkner could as easily restore my 
mother, whose remains we found mouldering 
in the grave which he dug for them ; he could 
as easily bring her back to the life and hap- 
piness of which he deprived her, as I, my 
father, or any one, free him from the course 



110 



FALKNER. 



of law to which he is made over. We must 
all abide by the issue — there is no remedy. 
But you — I would speak of you — " 

" I cannot speak, cannot think of myself," 
replied Elizabeth, " except in one way — to 
think all delays tedious that keep me from 
my father's side, and prevent me from sharing 
his wretchedness." 

" And yet you must not go to him," said 
Neville ; " yours is the scheme of inexpe- 
rience — but it must not be. How can you 
share Mr. Falkner's sorrows? you will scarcely 
be admitted to see him. And how unfit for 
you is such a scene. You cannot guess what 
these things are ; believe me, they are most 
unfit for one of your sex and age. I grieve 
to say in what execration the supposed mur- 
derer of my mother is held. You would be 
subjected to insult, you are alone and unpro- 
tected — even your high spirit would be broken 
by the evils that will gather round you." 

" I think not," replied Elizabeth ; "1 cannot 



FALKNER. Ill 

believe that my spirit can be broken by in- 
justice, or that it can quail while I perform 
a duty. It would indeed — spirit and heart 
would both break — were my conscience bur- 
thened with the sin of deserting my father. 
In prison — amidst the hootings of the mob — 
if for such I am reserved, I shall be safe and 
well guarded by the approbation of my own 
mind." 

" Would that an angel from heaven would 
descend to guard you!" cried Neville, passion- 
ately, " but in this inexplicable world, guilt and 
innocence are so mingled, that the one reaps 
the blessings deserved by the other ; and the 
latter sinks beneath the punishment incurred 
by the former. Else why, removed by birth, 
space, and time from all natural connexion 
with the cause of all this misery, are you cast 
on this evil hour ? Were you his daughter, my 
heart would not rebel— -blood calls to blood, 
and a child's duty is paramount. But you 
are no child of his ; you spring from another 



112 FALKNER. 

race — honour, affection, prosperity await you 
in your proper sphere. What have you to do 
with that unhappy man? 

" Yet another word," he continued, seeing 
Elizabeth about to reply with eagerness ; 
" and yet how vain are words to persuade. 
Could I but take you to a tower, and show 
you, spread below, the course of events, and 
the fatal results of your present resolves, you 
would suffer me to lead you from the dan- 
gerous path you are treading. If once you 
reach Cumberland, and appear publicly as 
Falkner's daughter, the name of Raby is lost 
to you for ever ; and if the worst should come, 
where will you turn for support? Where fly 
for refuge ? Unable to convince, I would 
substitute entreaty, and implore you to spare 
yourself these evils. You know not, indeed 
you do not know, what you are about to do." 

Thus impetuously urged, Elizabeth was for 
a few minutes half bewildered ; " I am afraid," 
she said, " I suppose indeed that I am some- 



FALKNER. 113 

thing of a savage — unable to bend to the laws 
of civilization. I did not know this — I thought 
I was much like other girls — attached to their 
home and parents — fulfilling their daily duties, 
as the necessities of those parents demand. I 
nursed my father when sick : now that he is in 
worse adversity, I still feel my proper place to 
be at his side, as his comforter and companion, 
glad if I can be of any solace to him. He is 
my father — my more than father — my pre- 
server in helpless childhood from the worst 
fate. May I suffer every evil when I forget 
that ! Even if a false belief of his guilt renders 

the world inimical to him, it will not be so 

* 

unjust to one as inoffending as I ; and if it is, 
it cannot touch me. Methinks we speak two 
languages — I speak of duties the most sacred ; 
to fail in which, would entail self-condemna- 
tion on me to the end of my days. You speak 
of the conveniences, the paint, the outside of 
life, which is as nothing in comparison. I 
cannot yield — I grieve to seem eccentric and 



114 



FALKNER. 



headstrong — it is my hard fate, not my will, so 
to appear." 

" Do not give such a name," replied Neville, 
deeply moved, "to an heroic generosity, only 
too exalted for this bad world. It is I that must 
yield, and pray to God to shield and recom- 
pense you as you deserve — he only can — he and 
your own noble heart. And will you pardon 
me, Miss Raby?" 

" Do not give me that name," interrupted 
Elizabeth. " I act in contradiction to my re- 
lations' wishes — I will not assume their name. 
The other, too, must be painful to you. Call 
me Elizabeth " 

Neville took her hand. " I am," he said, 
" a selfish, odious being ; you are full of self- 
sacrifice, of thought for others, of every 
blessed virtue. I think of myself — and hate 
myself while I yield to the impulse. Dear, 
dear Elizabeth, since thus I may call you, are 
you not all I have ever imagined of excellent ; 
I love you beyond all thought or word ; and 



FALKNER. 115 

have for many, many months, since first I saw 
you at Marseilles. Without reflection, I knew 
and felt you to be the being my soul thirsted 
for. I find you, and you are lost !" 

Love's own colour dyed deeply the cheeks 
of Elizabeth — she felt recompensed for every 
suffering in the simple knowledge of the sen- 
timent she inspired. A moment before, clouds 
and storms had surrounded her horizon ; now 
the sun broke in upon it. It was a transcendent 
though a transient gleam. The thought of 
Falkner again obscured the radiance, which, 
even in its momentary flash, was as if an 
angel, bearing with it the airs of Paradise, had 
revealed itself, and then again become ob- 
scured. 

Neville was less composed. He had never 
fully entered into his father's bitter thoughts 
against Falkner — and Elizabeth's fidelity to 
the unhappy man, made him half suspect the 
unexampled cruelty and injustice of the whole 
proceeding. Still compassion for the prisoner 



116 FALKNER. 

was a passive feeling ; while horror at the 
fate preparing for Elizabeth stirred his sensi- 
tive nature to its depths, and filled him with 
anguish. He walked impatiently about the 
room — and stopped before her, fixing on her 
his soft lustrous eyes, whose expression was 
so full of tenderness and passion. Elizabeth 
felt their influence ; but this was not the hour 
to yield to the delusions of love, and she said — 
" Now you will leave me, Mr. Neville — I have 
far to travel to-morrow — good night." 

" Have patience with me yet a moment 
longer," said Neville; " I cannot leave you 
thus — without offering from my whole heart, 
and conjuring you to accept my services. 
Parting thus, it is very uncertain when we 
meet again, and fearful sufferings are pre- 
pared for you. I believe that you esteem, 
that you have confidence in me. You know 
that my disposition is constant and perse- 
vering. You know, that the aim of my early 
life being fulfilled, and my mother's name freed 



FALKNER. 117 

from the unworthy aspersions cast upon it, I 
at once transfer every thought, every hope, to 
your well-being. At a distance, knowing the 
scene of misery in which you are placed, I 
shall be agitated by perpetual fears, and pass 
unnumbered hours of bitter disquietude. 
Will you promise me, that, despite all that 
divides us, if you need any aid or service, you 
will write to me, commanding me, in the full 
assurance that all you order shall be executed 
in its very spirit and letter." 

" I will indeed/' replied Elizabeth, " for I 
know that whatever happens you will always 
be my friend." 

" Your true, your best, your devoted 
friend," cried Neville; "it will always be 
my dearest ambition to prove all this. I 
will not adopt the name of brother — yet use 
me as a brother — no brother ever cherished 
the honour, safety, and happiness of a sister 
as I do yours." 

" You know," said Elizabeth, " that I shall 



118 FALKNER. 

not be alone — that I go to one to whom I owe 
obedience, and who can direct me. If in his 
frightful situation he needs counsel and assist- 
ance, it is not you, alas, that can render them; 
still in the world of sorrow in which I shall 
soon be an inhabitant, it will be a solace and 
support to think of your kindness, and rely 
upon it as unreservedly as I do." 

"A world of sorrow, indeed!" repeated 
Neville, — " A world of ignominy and woe, 
such as ought never to have visited you, even 
in a dream. — Its duration will be prolonged 
also beyond all fortitude or patience. Of 
course Mr. Falkner's legal advisers will insist 
on the necessity of Osborne's testimony — he 
must be sent for, and brought over. This 
demands time ; it will be spring before the 
trial takes place." 

" And all this time my father will be im- 
prisoned as a felon in a gaol," cried Elizabeth; 
tears, bitter tears, springing into her eyes. 
"Most horrible! Oh how necessary that I 



FALKNER. 119 

should be with him, to lighten the weary, 
unending hours. I thought all would soon 
be over — and his liberation at hand ; this 
delay of justice is indeed beyond my fears." 

" Thank God, that you are thus sanguine of 
the final result," replied Neville. " I will 
not say a word to shake your confidence, and 
I fervently hope it is well placed. And now 
indeed good night, I will not detain you 
longer. All good angels guard you — you 
cannot guess how bitterly I feel the necessity 
that disjoins us in this hour of mutual suf- 
fering." 

" Forgive me," said Elizabeth, " but my 
thoughts are with my father. You have 
conjured up a whole train of fearful antici- 
pations ; but I will quell them, and be patient 
again — for his, and all our sakes." 

They separated, and at the moment of 
parting, a gush of tenderness smoothed the 
harsher feelings inspired by their grief — 
despite herself, Elizabeth felt comforted by 



120 FALKNER. 

her friend's faithful and earnest attachment; 
and a few minutes passed in self-communicm 
restored her to those hopes for the best, which 
are the natural growth of youth and inexpe- 
rience. Neville left the inn immediately on 
quitting her ; and she, unable to sleep, occu- 
pied by various reveries, passed a few uneasy, 
and yet not wholly miserable, hours. A 
hallowed calm at last succeeded to her anxious 
fears ; springing from a reliance on Heaven, 
and the natural delight at being loved by one 
so dear ; it smoothed her wrinkled cares, and 
blunted her poignant regrets. 

At earliest dawn she sprung from her bed, 
eager to pursue her journey — nor did she 
again take rest till she arrived at Carlisle. 



FALKNER. 121 



CHAPTER IX. 



In the best room that could be allotted to 
him, consistently with safe imprisonment, and 
with such comforts around, as money might 
obtain, Falkner passed the lingering days. 
What so forlorn as the comforts of a prison ! 
the wigwam of the Indian is more pleasing to 
the imagination— that is in close contiguity 
with Nature, and partakes her charm — no 
barrier exists between it and freedom — and 
nature and freedom are the staunch friends of 
unsophisticated man. But a gaol's best room 
sickens the heart in its very show of accom- 

YOL. III. G 



122 FALKNER. 

modation. The strongly barred windows, 
looking out on the narrow court, surrounded 
by high frowning walls ; the appalling sounds 
that reach the ear, in such close neighbour- 
hood to crime and woe ; — the squalid appear- 
ance given to each inhabitant by the confined 
air — the surly authoritative manners of the 
attendants — not dependent on the prisoner, 
but on the state — the knowledge that all may 
come in, while he cannot get out — and the 
conviction that the very unshackled state of 
his limbs depends upon his tame submission 
and apparent apathy ; — there is no one circum- 
stance that does not wound the free spirit of 
man, and make him envy the meanest animal 
that breathes the free air, and is at liberty. 

Falkner, by that strange law of our nature, 
which makes us conceive the future, without 
being aware of our foreknowledge, had ac- 
quainted his imagination with these things — 
and, while writing his history amidst the far- 
stretched mountains of Greece, had shrunk 



FALKNER. 123 

and trembled before such an aspect of slavery ; 
and yet now that it had fallen on him, he 
felt in the first instance more satisfied, more 
truly free, than for many a long day before. 

There is no tyranny so hard as fear ; no 
prison so abhorrent as apprehension ; Falkner 
was not a coward, yet he feared. He feared 
discovery — he feared ignominy, and had 
eagerly sought death to free him from the 
terror of such evils, with which, perhaps — so 
strangely are we formed — Osborne had in- 
fected him. It had come — it was here — it 
was his life, his daily bread ; and he rose 
above the infliction calmly, and almost 
proudly. It is with pride that we say, that 
we endure the worst — there is a very freedom 
in the thought, that the animosity of all man- 
kind is roused against us — and every engine 
set at work for our injury — no more can be 
done — the gulf is passed — the claw of the 
wild beast is on our heart — but the spirit 
soars more freely still. To this was added the 

g 2 



124 FALKNER. 

singular relief which confession brings to the 
human heart. Guilt hidden in the recesses 
of the conscience assumes gigantic and dis- 
torted dimensions. When the secret is shared 
by another, it falls back at once into its natu- 
ral proportion. 

Much had this man of woe endured — the 
feeling against him, throughout the part of the 
country where he now was, was vehement. The 
discovery of poor Alithea's remains — the in- 
quest, and its verdict — the unhappy lady's fune- 
ral — had spread far and wide his accusation. 
It had been found necessary to take him into 
Carlisle by night; and even then, some few 
remained in waiting, and roused their fellows, 
and the hootings of execration were raised 
against him. " I end as I began," thought 
Falkner; "amidst revilings and injustice — I 
can surely suffer now, that which was often 
my lot in the first dawn of boyhood." 

His examination before the magistrates was 
a more painful proceeding. There was no 



FALKNER. 125 

glaring injustice, no vindictive hatred here, 
and yet he was accused of the foulest crime 
in nature, and saw in many faces the belief 
that he was a murderer. The murderer of 
Alithea ! He could have laughed in scorn, 
to think that such an idea had entered a man's 
mind. She, an angel whom he worshipped — 
whom to save he would have met ten thousand 
deaths — how mad a world — how insane a sys- 
tem must it be, where such a thought was not 
scouted as soon as conceived ! 

Falkner had no vulgar mind. In early 
youth he experienced those aspirations after 
excellence, which betokens the finely moulded 
among our fellow-creatures. There was a type 
of virtue engraved in his heart, after which he 
desired to model himself. Since the hour 
when the consequences of his guilt revealed 
its true form to him — he had striven, like an 
eagle in an iron-bound cage, to free himself 
from the trammels of conscience. He felt 
within how much better he might be than any 



126 FALKNER. 

thing he was. But all this was unacknowledged, 
and uncared for, in the present scene — it was 
not the heroism of his soul that was inquired 
into, but the facts of his whereabouts ; not the 
sacred nature of his worship for Alithea, but 
whether he had had opportunity to perpetrate 
crime. When we are conscious of innocence, 
what so heart-sickening as to combat circum- 
stances that accuse us of guilt which we abhor. 
His prison-room was a welcome refuge, after 
such an ordeal. 

His spirit could not be cowed by misfortune, 
and he felt unnaturally glad to be where he 
was ; he felt glad to be the victim of injustice, 
the mark of unspeakable adversity ; but his 
body's strength failed to keep pace with the 
lofty disdain of his soul — and Elizabeth, where 
was she? He rejoiced that she was absent 
when torn from his home ; he had directed 
the servants to say nothing to Miss Falkner — 
he would write ; and he had meant to fulfil 
this promise, but each time he thought to do 



FALKNER. 127 

so, he shrunk repugnant. He would not for 
worlds call her to his side, to share the horrors 
of his lot ; and feeling sure that she would be 
visited by some member of her father's family, 
he thought it best to let things take their 
course — unprotected and alone, she would 
gladly accept refuge there where it was offered 
— and the tie snapped between them — happiness 
and love would alike smile on her. 

He had it deeply at heart that she should 
not be mingled in the frightful details of his 
present situation, and yet drearily he missed 
her, for he loved her with a feeling, which, 
though not paternal, was as warm as ever filled 
a father's breast. His passions were ardent, and 
all that could be spared from remorse, were 
centred in his adopted child. He had looked 
on her, as the prophet might on the angel, who 
ministered to his Wants in the desert : in the 
abandonment of all mankind, in the desolation 
to which his crime had led him, she had brought 
love and cheer. She had been his sweet 



128 FALKNER. 

household companion, his familiar friend, his 
patient nurse — his soul had grown to her 
image, and when the place was vacant that 
she had filled, he was excited by eager long- 
ings for her presence, that even made his 
man's heart soft as a woman's with very 
desire. 

By degrees, as he thought of her and the 
past, the heroism of his soul was undermined 
and weakened. To every eye he continued 
composed, and even cheerful, as before. None 
could read in his impassive countenance the 
misery that dwelt within. He spent his time 
in reading and writing, and in necessary com- 
munications with the lawyers who were to 
conduct his defence ; and all this was done 
with a calm eye and unmoved voice. No 
token of complaint or impatience ever escaped ; 
he seemed equal to the fortune that attacked 
him. He grew, indeed, paler and thinner — 
till his handsome features stood out in their 
own expressive beauty ; he might have served 



FALKNER. 129 

for a model of Prometheus — the vulture at his 
heart producing pangs and spasms of physical 
suffering; but his will unconquered — his mind 
refusing to acknowledge the bondage to which 
his body was the prey. It was an unnatural 
combat ; for the tenderness which was blended 
with his fiercer passions, and made the charm 
of his character, sided with his enemies, and 
made him less able to bear, than one more 
roughly and hardly framed. 

He loved Nature — he had spent his life 
among her scenes. Nothing of her visited 
him now, save a star or two that rose above 
the prison-wall into the slip of sky his window 
commanded ; they were the faintest stars in 
heaven, and often were shrouded by clouds 
and mist. Thus doubly imprisoned, his body 
barred by physical impediments — his soul 
shut up in itself — he became, in the energetic 
language of genius, the cannibal of his own 
heart. Without a vent for any, thoughts re- 

g 3 



130 FALKNER. 

volved in his brain with the velocity and 
action of a thousand mill-wheels, and would 
not be stopped. Now a spasm of painful 
emotion covered his brow with a cold dew — 
now self-contempt made every portion of 
himself detestable in his own eyes — now he 
felt the curse of God upon him, weighing 
him down with heavy, relentless burthen ; and 
then again he was assailed by images of free- 
dom, and keen longings for the free air. "If 
even, like Mazeppa, I might seek the wilds, 
and career along, though death was the 
bourn in view, 1 were happy!" These wild 
thoughts crossed him, exaggerated into gasping 
desire to achieve such a fate, when the sights 
and sounds of a prison gathered thick around, 
and made the very thought of his fellow- 
creatures one of disgust and abhorrence. 

Thus sunk in gloom, far deeper internally 
than in outward show — warring with remorse, 
and the sense of unmerited injury — vanquished 



FALKNER. 131 

by fate, yet refusing to yield, — nature had 
reached the acme of suffering. He grew to 
be careless of the result of his trial, and to 
neglect the means of safety. He pondered on 
self-destruction — though that were giving the 
victory to his enemies. He looked round 
him ; his cell appeared a tomb. He felt as if 
he had passed out of life into death ; strange 
thoughts and images flitted through his mind, 
and the mortal struggle drew to a close, — 
when, on a day, his prison-door opened, and 
Elizabeth stepped within the threshold. 

To see the beloved being we long for inex- 
pressibly, and believe to be so far — to hear 
the dear voice, whose sweet accent we ima- 
gined to be mute to us for ever — to feel the 
creature's very soul in real communion with 
us, and the person we doat on, visible to our 
eyes ; — such are moments of bliss, which the 
very imperfections of our finite nature renders 
immeasurably dear. Falkner saw his child, 
and felt no longer imprisoned. She was free- 



132 FALKNER. 

dom and security. Looking on her sweet 
face, he could not believe in the existence 
of evil. Wrongs and woe, and a torturing 
conscience, melted and fled away before her ; 
while fresh springing happiness filled every 
portion of his being. 



FALKNER. 133 



CHAPTER X 



Elizabeth arrived at the moment of the 
first painful crisis of Falkner's fate. The 
assizes came on— busy faces crowded into his 
cell, and various consultations took place as 
to the method of his defence ; and here began 
a series of cares, mortifications, and worse 
anxieties, which brought home to the hearts 
of the sufferers the horrors of their position. 

The details of crime and its punishment are 
so alien to the individuals placed in the upper 
classes of society, that they read them as tales 
of another and a distant land. And it is like 



134 FALKNER. 

being cast away on a strange and barbarous 
country to find such become a part of our 
own lives. The list of criminals — the quality 
of their offences — the position Falkner held 
among them, were all discussed by the men 
of law ; and Falkner listened, impassive in 
seeming apathy — his eagle eye bent on vacancy 
— his noble brow showing no trace of the 
rush of agonizing thought that flowed through 
his brain ; it was not till he saw his child's 
earnest searching eyes bent on him, that he 
smiled, so to soften the keenness of her lively 
sympathy. She listened, too, her cheek alter- 
nately flushed and pale, and her eyes brimming 
over with tears, as she drew nearer to her 
unfortunate friend's side, as if her innocence 
and love might stand between him and the 
worst. 

The decision of the grand jury was the 
first point to be considered. There existed no 
doubt but that that would go against the ac- 
cused. The lawyers averred this, but still 



FALKNER. 135 

Elizabeth hoped — men could not be so blind — 
or some unforeseen enlightenment might dawn 
on their understandings. The witnesses against 
him were Sir Boyvill and his son ; the latter, 
she well knew, abhorred the course pursued ; 
and if some touch could reach Sir Boyvill's 
heart, and show him the unworthiness and 
falsehood of his proceedings, through the 
mode in which their evidence might be 
given, all would alter — the scales would drop 
from men's eyes — the fetters from Falkner's 
limbs — and this strange and horrible entan- 
glement be dissipated like morning mist. She 
brooded for ever on these thoughts — sometimes 
she pondered on writing to Neville — some- 
times on seeing his father ; but his assertion 
was recollected that nothing now could alter 
the course of events, and that drove her back 
upon despair. 

For ever thinking on these things, and 
hearing them discussed, it was yet a severe 
blow to both, when, in the technical language 



136 FALKNER. 

of the craft, it was announced that a true bill 
was found against Rupert Falkner. 

Such is the nature of the mind, that hitherto 
Falkner had never looked on the coming time 
in its true proportions or colours. The 
decision of the preliminary jury, which might 
be in his favour, had stood as a screen between 
him and the future. Knowing himself to be 
innocent, abhorring the very image of the 
crime of which he was accused, how could 
twelve impartial, educated men agree that 
any construction put upon his actions, should 
cast the accusation on him ? The lawyers 
had told him that so it would be — he had 
read the fearful expectation in Elizabeth's 
eyes — but it could not! Justice was not a 
mere word — innocence bore a stamp not to be 
mistaken ; the vulgar and senseless malice of 
Sir Boyvill would be scouted and reprobated ; 
such was his intimate conviction, though he 
had never expressed it; but this was all 
changed now. The tale of horror was ad- 



FALKNER. 137 

mitted, registered as a probability, and had 
become a rule for future acts. The ignominy 
of a public trial would assuredly be his. And 
going, as is usual, from one extreme to the 
other, the belief entered his soul that he 
should be found guilty and die the death. A 
dark veil fell over life and nature. Ofttimes 
he felt glad, even to escape thus from a 
hideous system of wrong and suffering ; but 
the innate pride of the heart rebelled, and his 
soul struggled as in the toils. 

Elizabeth heard the decision with even more 
dismay ; her head swam, and she grew sick at 
heart — would his trial come on in a few days ? 
would all soon, so soon, be decided ? was the 
very moment near at hand to make or mar 
existence, and turn this earth from a scene of 
hope into a very hell of torture and despair ? 
for such to her it must be, if the worst befell 
Falkner. The worst! oh, what a worst! how 
hideous, squalid, unredeemed! There was 
madness in the thought; and she hurried to 



138 FALKNER. 

his cell to see him and hear him speak, so to 
dissipate the horror of her thoughts ; her 
presence of mind, her equanimity, all deserted 
her ; she looked bewildered — her heart beat 
as if it would burst her bosom — her face grew 
ashy pale — her limbs unstrung of every 
strength — and her efforts to conceal her weak- 
ness from Falkner's eyes, but served the more 
to confuse. 

She found him seated near his window, 
looking on so much of the autumnal sky as 
could be perceived through the bars of the 
high narrow opening. The clouds traversed 
the slender portion of heaven thus visible ; 
they fled fast to other lands, and the spirit of 
liberty rode upon their outstretched wings ; 
away they flew, far from him, and he had no 
power to reach their bourn, nor to leave the 
dingy walls that held him in. Oh, Nature ! 
while we possess thee, thy changes ever lovely, 
thy vernal airs or majestic storms, thy vast crea- 
tion spread at our feet, above, around us, how 



FALKNER. 139 

can we call ourselves unhappy? there is brother- 
hood in the growing, opening flowers, love in 
the soft winds, repose in the verdant expanse, 
and a quick spirit of happy life throughout, 
with which our souls hold glad communion ; 
but the poor prisoner was barred out from 
these : how cumbrous the body felt, how 
alien to the inner spirit of man, the fleshy 
bars that allowed it to become the slave of his 
fellows. 

The stunning effects of the first blow had 
passed away, and there was in Falkner's face 
that lofty expression that resembled cold- 
ness, though it was the triumph over sensi- 
bility; something of disdain curled his lip, and 
his whole air denoted the acquisition of a 
power superior to fate. Trembling, Elizabeth 
entered ; never before had she lost self- 
command ; even now she paused at the 
threshold to resume it, but in vain ; she saw 
him, she flew to his arms, she dissolved in 
tears, and became all woman in her tender 



140 FALKNER. 

fears. He was touched — he would have 
soothed her ; a choking sensation arose in 
his throat : " I never felt a prisoner till now," 
he cried : " can you still, still cling to one 
struck with infamy ?" 

" Dearer, more beloved than ever !" she 
murmured ; " surelv there is no tie so close 
and strong as misery ?" 

" Dear, generous girl," said Falkner, "how 
I hate myself for making such large demand 
on your sympathy. Let me suffer alone. This 
is not the place for you, Elizabeth. Your 
free step should be on the mountain's side ; 
these silken tresses the playthings of the 
unconfined winds. While I thought that I 
should speedily be liberated, I was willing 
to enjoy the comfort of your society ; but 
now I, the murderer, am not a fit mate for 
you. I am accursed, and pull disaster down 
on all near me. I was born to destroy the 
young and beautiful." 

With such talk they tried to baffle this 



FALKNER. 



141 



fierce \isitation of adversity. Falkner told 
her that on that day it would be decided 
whether the trial should take place at once, 
or time be given to send for Osborne from 
America. The turn Neville had given to his 
evidence had been so favourable to the accused, 
as to shake the prejudice against him, and it 
was believed that the judges would at once 
admit the necessity of waiting for so material 
a witness ; and yet their first and dearest hope 
had been destroyed, so they feared to give way 
to a new one. 

As they conversed, the solicitor entered with 
good tidings. The trial was put off till the 
ensuing assizes, in March, to give time for 
the arrival of Osborne. The hard dealing of 
destiny and man relented a little, and despair 
receded from their hearts, leaving space to 
breathe — to pray — to hope. No time was to 
be lost in sending for Osborne. Would he 
come? It could not be doubted. A free 
pardon was to be extended to him ; and he 



142 FALKNER. 

would save a fellow-creature, and his former 
benefactor, without any risk of injury to him- 
self. 

The day closed, therefore, more cheeringly 
than it had begun. Falkner conquered him- 
self, even to a show of cheerfulness ; and re- 
called the colour to his tremulous companion's 
cheeks ; and half a smile to her lips, by his 
encouragement. He turned her thoughts from 
the immediate subject, narrating the events of 
his first acquaintance with Oslorne, and 
describing the man : — a poltroon, but kindly 
hearted — fearful of his own skin, to a con- 
temptible extent, but looking up with awe to 
his superiors, and easily led by one richer and 
of higher station to any line of conduct ; an 
inborn slave, but with many of a slave's good 
qualities. Falkner did not doubt that he 
would put himself eagerly forward on the 
present occasion ; and whatever his evidence 
were good for, it would readily be produced. 

There was no reason then for despair. While 



FALKNER. 143 

the shock they had undergone took the sting 
from the present — fearing an immediate and 
horrible catastrophe — the wretchedness of 
their actual state was forgotten — it acquired 
comfort and security by the contrast — each 
tried to cheer the other, and they separated for 
the night with apparent composure. Yet that 
night Elizabeth's pillow, despite her earnest 
endeavours to place reliance on Providence, was 
watered by the bitterest tears that ever such 
young eyes shed ; and Falkner told each hour 
of the live-long night, as his memory retraced 
past scenes, and his spirit writhed and bled to 
feel that, in the wantonness and rebellion of 
youth, he had been the author of so wide- 
spreading, so dark a web of misery. 

From this time, their days were spent in 
that sort of monotony which has a peculiar 
charm to the children of adversity. The re- 
currence of one day after the other, none 
being marked by disaster, or indeed any event, 
imparted a satisfaction, gloomy indeed, and 



144 FALKNER. 

sad, but grateful to the heart wearied by 
many blows, and by the excitement of mortal 
hopes and fears. The mind adapted itself to 
the new state of things, and enjoyments 
sprung up in the very home of desolation — 
circumstances that, in happier days, were but 
the regular routine of life, grew into bless- 
ings from Heaven ; and the thought, " Come 
what will, this hour is safe!" made precious 
the mere passage of time — months were placed 
between them and the dreaded crisis — and so 
are we made, that when once this is an esta- 
blished, acknowledged fact, we can play on 
the eve of danger, almost like the uncon- 
scious animal destined to bleed. 

Their time was regularly divided, and occu- 
pations succeeded one to another. Elizabeth 
rented apartments not far from the prison. 
She gave the early morning hours to exercise, 
and the rest of the day was spent in Falkner's 
prison. He read to her as she worked at the 
tapestry frame, or she took the book while he 



FALKNER. 145 

drew or sketched ; nor was music wanting, 
such as suited the subdued tone of their 
minds, and elevated it to reverence and re- 
signation ; and sweet still hours were spent 
near their fire ; for their hearth gleamed 
cheerfully, despite surrounding horrors — 
gaiety was absent, but neither was the voice 
of discontent heard ; all repinings were hidden 
in the recesses of their hearts ; their talk 
was calm, abstracted from matters of daily 
life, but gifted with the interest that talent 
can bestow on all it touches. Falkner exerted 
himself chiefly to vary their topics, and to 
enliven them by the keenness of his observa- 
tions, the beauty of his descriptions, and the 
vividness of his narrations. He spoke of India, 
they read various travels, and compared the 
manners of different countries — they forgot 
the bars that chequered the sunlight on the 
floor of the cell — they forgot the cheerless 
gloom of each surrounding object. Did they 
also forget the bars and bolts between them 

VOL. III. h 



146 FALKNER. 

and freedom ? — the thoughtful tenderness which 
had become the habitual expression of Eliza- 
beth's face — the subdued manner and calm 
tones of Falkner were a demonstration that 
they did not. Something they were conscious 
of at each minute, that checked the free pulsa- 
tions of their hearts ; a word in a book, 
brought by some association home to her feel- 
ings, would cause Elizabeth's eyes to fill with 
unbidden tears — and proud scorn would now 
and then dilate the breast of Falkner, as he 
read some story of oppression, and felt, " I 
also am persecuted, and must endure." 

In this position, they each grew unutter- 
ably dear to the other — every moment, every 
thought, was full to both of the image of either. 
There is something inexpressibly winning in 
beauty and grace — it is a sweet blessing when 
our household companion charms our senses 
by the loveliness of her person, and makes 
the eye gladly turn to her, to be gratified by 
such a form and look as we would travel 



FALKNER. 147 

miles to see depicted on canvas. It soothed 
many a spasm of pain, and turned many an 
hour of suffering into placid content, when 
Falkner watched the movements of his youthful 
friend. You might look in her face for days, and 
still read something new, something sublime 
in the holy calm of her brow, in her serious, 
yet intelligent eyes ; while all a woman's soft- 
ness dwelt in the moulding of her cheeks and 
her dimpled mouth . Each word she said, and all 
she did, so became her, that it appeared the 
thing best to be said and done, — and was accom- 
panied by a fascination, both for eye and heart, 
which emanated from her purity and truth. 
Falkner grew to worship the very thought of 
her. She had not the wild spirits and trem- 
bling sensibility of her he had destroyed, but 
in her kind, she was no way inferior. 

Yet though each, as it were, enjoyed the 
respite given by fortune to their worst fears, yet 
this very sense of transitory security was in its 
essence morbid and unnatural . A fever preyed 

h 2 



148 FALKNER. 

nightly on Falkner, and there were ghastly 
streaks upon his brow, that bespoke internal 
suffering and decay. Elizabeth grew paler 
and thinner — her step lost its elasticity, her 
voice became low-toned — her eyes were ac- 
quainted with frequent tears, and the lids 
grew heavy and dark. Both lived for ever 
in the presence of misery — they feared to 
move or speak, lest they should awaken the 
monster, then for a space torpid ; but they 
spent their days under its shadow — the air 
they drew was chilled by its icy influence — no 
wholesome light-hearted mood of mind was 
ever theirs — they might pray and resign them- 
selves, they might congratulate themselves on 
the safety of the passing moment ; but each 
sand that flowed from the hour-glass was 
weighed — each thought that passed through the 
brain was examined — every word uttered was 
pondered over. They were exhausted by the 
very vividness of their unsleeping endeavours 
to blunt their sensations. 



FALKNER. 149 

The hours were very sad that they spent 
apart. The door closed on Elizabeth, and 
love, and hope, and all the pride of life, 
vanished with her. Falkner was again a 
prisoner, an accused felon — a man over 
whom impended the most hideous fate — 
whom the dosrs of law barked round, and 
looked on as their prey. His high heart 
often quailed. He laid his head on his pillow, 
desiring never again to raise it — despair kept 
his lids open the livelong nights, while nought 
but palpable darkness brooded over his eye- 
balls ; — he rose languid — dispirited — revolving 
thoughts of death ; till at last she came, who 
by degrees dispelled the gloom — and shed 
over his benighted soul the rays of her pure 
spirit. 

She also was miserable in solitude : the 
silent evening hours spent apart from him 
were melancholy and drear. Nothing inter- 
rupted their stillness. She felt deserted by 
every human being, and was indeed reduced 



150 



FALKNER. 



to the extremity of loneliness. In the town 
and neighbourhood many pitied — many ad- 
mired her, and some offered their services ; 
but none visited or tried to cheer the solitary 
hours of the devoted daughter. As the child 
of a man accused of murder, there was a 
barrier between her and the world. The 
English are generous to their friends, but 
they are never kind to strangers ; the tie of 
brotherhood, which Christ taught as uniting 
all mankind, is unacknowledged by them. 
They so fear that their sullen fireside should 
be unduly invaded, and so expect to be ill- 
treated, that each man makes a Martello tower 
of his home, and keeps watch against the 
gentler charities of life, as from an invading 
enemy. Hour after hour therefore Elizabeth 
spent — thought, her only companion. 

From Falkner and his miserable fortunes, 
sometimes her reflections strayed to Gerard 
Neville, — the generous friend on whom she 
wholly relied, yet who could in no way aid or 



FALKNER. 151 

comfort her. They were divided. He thought 
of her, she knew ; his constant and ardent 
disposition would cause her to be for ever 
the cherished object of his reveries; and now 
and then, as she took her morning ride, or 
looked from her casement at night upon the 
high stars, and pale, still moon, Nature spoke 
to her audibly of him, and her soul overflowed 
with tenderness. Still he was far — no word 
from him reached her — no token of living 
remembrance. Lady Cecil also — she neither 
wrote nor sent. The sense of abandonment is 
hard to bear, and many bitter tears did the 
young sufferer shed — and many a yearning 
had she to enter with her ill-starred father the 
silent abode of the tomb — scarcely more still 
or dark than the portion of life which was 
allotted to them, even while existence was 
warm in their hearts, and the natural im- 
pulse of their souls was to seek sympathy and 
receive consolation. 



152 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER XL 



The varied train of hopes and fears which 
belonged to the situation of the prisoner and 
his faithful young companion, stood for some 
time suspended. In some sort they might be 
said neither to hope nor fear; for, reasoning 
calmly, they neither expected that the worst 
would befall; and the actual and impending 
evil was certain. Like shipwrecked sailors 
who have betaken themselves to a boat, and 
are tossed upon a tempestuous sea, they saw 
a ship nearing, they believed that their signal 
was seen, and that it was bearing down 



FALKNER. 153 

towards them. What if, with sudden tack, 
the disdainful vessel should turn its prow 
aside, and leave them to the mercy of the 
waves. They did not anticipate such a 
completion to their disasters. 

Yet, as time passed, new anxieties occurred. 
Falkner's solicitor, Mr. Colville, had dis- 
patched an agent to America to bring Osborne 
over. The pardon promised insured his 
coming ; and yet it was impossible not to feel 
inquietude with regard to his arrival. Falk- 
ner experienced least of this. He felt sure of 
Osborne, his creature, the being whose life he 
had heretofore saved, whose fortunes he had 
created. He knew his weakness, and how 
easily he was dealt with. The mere people of 
business were not so secure. Osborne enjoyed 
a comfortable existence, far from danger — why 
should he come over to place himself in a 
disgraceful situation, to be branded as a 
pardoned felon ? In a thousand ways he might 

o 
H O 



154 FALKNER. 

evade the summons. Perhaps there was 
nothing to prove that the Osborne whom 
Hoskins named, was the Osborne who had 
been employed by Falkner, and was deemed 
an accessory in Mrs. Neville's death. 

Hillary, who had been sent to Washington 
in September, had written immediately on his 
arrival. His passage had been tedious, as 
autumnal voyages to America usually are — he 
did not arrive till the last day of October ; he 
announced that Osborne was in the town, and 
that on the morrow he should see him. This 
letter had arrived towards the end of No- 
vember, and there was no reason wherefore 
Hillary and Osborne should not quickly follow 
it. But November passed away, and De- 
cember had begun, and still the voyagers did 
not arrive ; the south-west wind continued to 
reign with slight variation ; except that as 
winter advanced, it became more violent : 
packets perpetually arrived in Liverpool from 



FALKNER. 155 

America, after passages of seventeen and 
twenty days ; but Hillary did not return, nor 
did he write. 

The woods were despoiled of their leaves ; 
but still the air was warm and pleasant; and 
it cheered Elizabeth as favourable to her 
hopes ; the sun shone at intervals, and the 
misty mornings were replaced by cheerful 
days. Elizabeth rode out each morning, and 
this one day, the sixteenth of December, 
she found a new pleasure in her solitary 
exercise. The weather was calm and cheerful ; 
a brisk canter gave speed to the current of 
her blood; and her thoughts, though busy, 
had a charm in them that she was half angry 
with herself for feeling, but which glowed all 
warm and bright, despite every effort. On the 
preceding evening she had observed, on her 
return home, at nine o'clock, from the prison, 
the figure of a man, which passed her hastily, 
and then stood aloof, as if guarding and 
watching her at a distance. Once, as he 



156 FALKNEE. 

stood under an archway, a nickering lamp 
threw his shadow across her path. It was a 
bright moonlight night, and as he stood in the 
midst of an open space near which her house 
was situated, she recognized, muffled as he was, 
th$ form of Gerard Neville. No wonder then 
that her heart was lightened of its burthen; 
he had not forgotten her — he could no longer 
command himself to absence ; if he might not 
converse with her, at least he might look 
upon her as she passed. 

On the same morning she entered her 
father's prison-room, — she found two visiters 
already there, Colville and his agent Hillary. 
The faces of both were long and serious. 
Elizabeth turned anxiously to Falkner, who 
looked stern and disdainful. He smiled when 
he saw her, and said, " You must not be 
shocked, my love, at the news which these 
gentlemen bring. I cannot tell how far it 
influences my fate ; but it is impossible to 
believe that it is irrevocably sealed by it. But 



FALKNER. 157 

who can express the scorn that a man must 
feel, to know that so abject a poltroon wears 
the human form. Osborne refuses to come." 

Such an announcement naturally filled her 
with dismay. At the request of Falkner, 
Hillary began again to relate the circum- 
stances of his visit to America. He recounted, 
that finding that Osborne was in Washington, 
he lost no time in securing an interview. He 
delivered his letters to him, and said that he 
came from Mr. Falkner, on an affair of life 
and death. At the name, Osborne turned pale 
— he seemed afraid of opening the letters, and 
muttered something about there being a mis- 
take. At length he broke the seals. Fear, in 
its most abject guise, blanched his cheek as 
he read, and his hand trembled so that he 
could scarcely hold the paper. Hillary, per- 
ceiving at last that he had finished reading, 
and was hesitating what to say, began himself 
to enter on the subject; when, faltering and 
stammering, Osborne threw the letter down, 



158 FALKNER. 

saying, " I said there was a mistake — I know 
nothing — all this affair is new to me — I never 
had concern with Mr. Falkner — I do not know 
who Mr. Falkner is." 

But for the pale, quivering lips of the man, 
and his tremulous voice, Hillary might have 
thought that he spoke truth ; but he saw that 
cowardice was the occasion of the lie he told, and 
he endeavoured to set before him the perfect 
safety with which he might comply with the 
request he conveyed. But the more he said, 
Osborne, gathering assurance, the more obsti- 
nately denied all knowledge of the transactions 
in question, or their principal actor. He 
changed, warmed by his own words, from timid 
to impudent in his denials, till Hillary's con- 
viction began to be shaken a little; and at the 
same time he grew angry, and cross-ques- 
tioned him with a lawyer's art, about his arrival 
in America — questions which Osborne an- 
swered with evident trepidation. At last, he 
asked him, if he remembered such and such a 



FALKNER. 159 

house, and such a journey, and the name of 
his companion on the occasion ; and if he 
recollected a person of the name of Hoskins ? 
Osborne started at the word as if he had been 
shot. Pale he was before, but now his cheeks 
grew of a chalky white, his limbs refused to 
support him, and his voice died away; till, 
rousing himself, he pretended to fly into a vio- 
lent passion at the insolence of the intrusion, and 
impertinence of the questions. As he spoke, 
he unwarily betrayed that he knew more of 
the transaction than he would willingly have 
allowed; at last, after running on angrily and 
incoherently for some time, he suddenly broke 
away, and (they were at a tavern) left the 
room, and also the house. 

Hillary hoped that, on deliberation, he would 
come to his senses. He sent the letters after 
him to his house, and called the next day ; 
but he was gone — he had left Washington the 
evening before by the steamer to Charles- 
town. Hillary knew not what to do. He 



160 FALKNER. 

applied to the government authorities ; they 
could afford him no help. He also repaired 
to Charlestown. Some time he spent in 
searching for Osborne — vainly ; it appeared 
plain that he travelled under another name. 
At length, by chance, he found a person who 
knew him personally, who said that he had 
departed a week before for New Orleans. It 
seemed useless to make this further journey, 
yet Hillary made it, and with like ill-success. 
Whether Osborne was concealed in that town 
— whether he had gone to Mexico, or lurked 
in the neighbouring country, could not be 
discovered. Time wore away in fruitless re- 
searches, and it became necessary to come to 
a decision. Hopeless of success, Hillary 
thought it best to return to England — with 
the account of his failure — so that no time 
might be lost in providing a remedy, if any 
could be found, to so fatal an injury to their 
cause. 

While this tale was being told, Falkner had 



FALKNER. 



161 



leisure to recover from that boiling of the 
blood which the first apprehension of un- 
worthy conduct in one of our fellow-creatures 
is apt to excite, and now spoke with his usual 
composure. " I cannot believe," he said, 
" that this man's evidence is of the import 
which is supposed. No one, in fact, believes 
that I am a murderer ; every one knows that 
I am innocent. All that we have to do, is to 
prove this in a sort of technical and legal 
manner ; and yet hardly that — for we are not 
to address the deaf ear of law, but the common 
sense of twelve men, who will not be slow, I 
feel assured, in recognizing the truth. All 
that can be done to make my story plain, 
and to prove it by circumstances, of course 
must be done ; and I do not fear but that, 
when it is ingenuously and simply told, it 
will suffice for my acquittal."" 

" It is right to hope for the best/' said Mr. 
Colville; " but Osborne's refusal* to come is, 
in itself, a bad fact ; the prosecutor will insist 



162 FALKNER. 

much upon it — I would give a hundred pounds 
to have him here." 

" I would not give a hundred pence," said 
Falkner, drily. 

The other stared — the observation had an 
evil effect on his mind ; he fancied that his 
client was even glad that a witness so material 
refused to appear, and this to him had the 
aspect of guilt. He continued, " I am so far 
of a different opinion, that I should advise 
sending a second time. Had you a friend 
sufficiently zealous to undertake a voyage 
across the Atlantic for the purpose of per- 
suading Osborne" 

" I would not ask him to cross a ditch for 
the purpose," — interrupted Falkner, with some 
asperity. " Let such men as would believe a 
dastard like Osborne in preference to a gen- 
tleman, and a soldier, take my life, if they 
will. It is not worth this pains in my own 
eyes — and thirsted for by my fellow men — it 
is a burthen I would willingly lay down." 



FALKNER. 



163 



The soft touch of Elizabeth's hand placed 
on his recalled him — he looked on her tearful 
eyes, and became aware of his fault — he 
smiled to comfort her. " I ought to apologize 
to these gentlemen for my hastiness," he said; 
— " and to you, my dear girl, for my apparent 
trifling — but there is a degradation in these 
details that might chafe a more placid temper. 
— I cannot — I will not descend to beg my life 
— I am innocent, this all men must know, 
or at least will know, when their passions 
are no longer in excitement against me — I 
can say no more — I cannot win an angel from 
heaven to avouch my guiltlessness of her 
blood — I cannot draw this miserable fellow 
from his cherished refuge. All must fall on 
my own shoulders — I must support the bur- 
then of my fate ; I shall appear before my 
judges ; if they, seeing me, and hearing me 
speak, yet pronounce me guilty, let them look 
to it — I shall be satisfied to die, so to quit at 
once a blind, blood-thirsty world !" 



164 FALKNER. 

The dignity of Falkner as he spoke these 
words, the high, disdainful, yet magnanimous 
expression of his features, the clear though 
impassioned tone of his voice, thrilled the 
hearts of all. "Thank God, I do love this man 
even as he deserves to be loved," was the 
tender sentiment that lighted up Elizabeth's 
eyes; while his male auditors could not help, 
both by countenance and voice, giving token 
that they were deeply moved. On taking 
their leave soon after, Mr. Colville grasped 
Falkner's hand cordially, and bade him rest 
assured that his zeal, his utmost endeavours, 
should not be wanting to serve him. " And," 
he added, in obedience rather to his newly 
awakened interest than his judgment, " I can- 
not doubt but that our endeavours will be 
crowned with complete success." 

A man of real courage always finds new 
strength unfold within him to meet a larger 
demand made upon it. Falkner was now, 
perhaps for the first time, thoroughly roused 



FALKNER. 165 

to meet the evils of his lot. He threw off 
every natural, every morbid sensibility, and 
strung himself at once to a higher and firmer 
tone of mind. He renounced the brittle hopes 
before held out to him — of this or that cir- 
cumstance being in his favour — he intrusted 
unreservedly his whole cause to the mighty 
irresistible power who rules human affairs, 
and felt calm and free. If by disgrace and 
death he were to atone for the destruction of 
his victim — so let it be — the hour of suffering 
would come, and it would pass away — and 
leaving him a corpse, the vengeance of his 
fellow-creatures would end there. He felt 
that the decree for life or death having re- 
ceived already the irrefragable fiat — he was 
prepared for both ; and he resolved from that 
hour to drive all weak emotions, all struggle, 
all hope or fear from his soul. " Let God's 
will be done !" something of Christian resig- 
nation — something (derived from his eastern 
life) of belief in fatality — and something of 



166 



FALKNER. 



philosophic fortitude, composed the feeling 
that engraved this sentiment in his heart, in 
ineffaceable characters. 

He now spoke of Osborne to Elizabeth 
without acrimony. " My indignation against 
that man was all thrown away," he said ; "we 
do not rebuke the elements when they destroy 
us, and why should we spend our anger 
against men? — a word from Osborne, they 
say, would save me — the falling of the wind, 
or the allaying of the waves, would have saved 
Alithea — both are beyond our control. I 
imagined in those days that I could guide 
events — till suddenly the reins were torn from 
my hands. A few months ago I exalted, in 
expectation that the penalty demanded for 
my crime would be the falling by the hands 
of her son — and here I am an imprisoned 
felon ! — and now we fancy that this thing or 
that might preserve me ; while in truth all is 
decreed, all registered, and we must patiently 
await the appointed time. Come what may, 



FALKNER. 167 

I am prepared — from this hour I have taught 
my spirit to bend, and to be content to die. 
When all is over, men will do me justice, and 
that poor fellow will bitterly lament his cow- 
ardice. It will be agony to him to remem- 
ber that one word would have preserved my life 
then, when no power on earth can recall me to 
existence. He is not a bad man — and could he 
now have represented to him his after remorse, 
he would cease to exhibit such lamentable cow- 
ardice — a cowardice, after all, that has its 
origin in the remnants of good feeling. The fear 
of shame ; horror at having participated in 
so fearful a tragedy ; and a desire to throw 
off the consequences of his actions which is 
the perpetual and stinging accompaniment of 
guilt, form his motives ; but could he be told 
how immeasurably his sense of guilt will be 
increased, if his silence occasions my death, 
all these would become minor considerations, 
and vanish on the instant." 



168 FA.LKNER. 

" And would it be impossible," said Eliza- 
beth, " to awaken this feeling in him?" 

" By no means," replied Falkner ; " though it 
is out of our power. We sent a mercenary, 
not indeed altogether lukewarm, but still not 
penetrated by that ardour, nor capable of that 
eloquence, which is necessary to move a weak 
man, like the one he had to deal with. Osborne 
is, in some sort, a villain ; but he is too feeble- 
minded to follow out his vocation. He always 
desired to be honest. Now he has the reputa- 
tion of being such ; from being one of those 
miserable creatures, the refuse of civilization, 
preying upon the vices, while they are the out- 
casts of society, he has become respectable 
and trust- worthy in the eyes of others. He 
very naturally clings to advantages dearly 
earned — lately gained. He fancies to pre- 
serve them by deserting me. Could the veil 
be lifted — could the conviction be imparted of 
the wretch he will become in his own eves, 



FALKNER. 169 

and of the universal execration that will be 
heaped on him after my death, his mind would 
entirely change, and he would be as eager, I 
had almost said, to come forward, as now he is 
set upon concealment and silence." 



vol. in. 



170 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER XII. 



Elizabeth listened in silence. All that had 
passed made a deep impression — from the mo- 
ment that the solicitor had expressed a wish, 
that Falkner had a zealous friend to cross 
the Atlantic — till now, that he himself dilated 
on the good that would result from represen- 
tations being clearly and fervently made to 
Osborne, she was revolving an idea that 
absorbed her whole faculties. 

This idea was no other than going to America 
herself. She had no doubt, that, seeing Os- 
borne, she could persuade him, and the dif- 



FALKNER. 171 

Acuities of the journey appeared slight to 
her who had travelled so much. She asked 
Falkner many questions, and his answers con- 
firmed her more and more in her plan. No 
objection presented itself to her mind ; already 
she felt sure of success. There was scarcely 
time, it was true, for the voyage ; but she 
hoped that the trial might be again deferred, 
if reasonable hopes were held out of Osborne's 
ultimate arrival. It was painful to leave 
Falkner without a friend, but the object of 
her journey was paramount, even to this con- 
sideration ; it must, it should, be undertaken. 
Still she said nothing of her scheme, and 
Falkner could not guess at what was passing 
in her mind. 

Wrapped in the reverie suggested by such 
a plan, she returned home in the evening, 
without thinking of the apparition of Neville, 
which had so filled her mind in the morning. 
It was not till at her own door, that the thought 
glanced through her mind, and she remem- 

i 2 



172 FALKNER. 

bered that she had seen nothing of him — she 
looked across the open space where he had 
stood the evening before. It was entirely 
vacant. She felt disappointed, and saddened; 
and she began to reflect on her total friend- 
lessness — no one to aid her in preparations for 
her voyage — none to advise — her sole resource 
was in hirelings. But her independent, firm 
spirit quickly threw off this weakness, and 
she began a note to Mr. Colville, asking him 
to call on her, as she wished to arrange every 
thing definitively before she spoke to Falkner. 
As she wrote, she heard a rapid, decided step 
in her quiet street, followed by a hurried, yet 
gentle knock at her door. She started up. 
" It is he !" the words were on her lips, when 
Gerard entered ; she held out her hand, glad- 
ness thrilling through her whole frame, her 
heart throbbing wildly — her eyes lighted up 
with joy. "This is indeed kind," she cried. 
" Oh, Mr. Neville, how happy your visit 
makes me !" 



FALKNER. 173 

He did not look happy ; he had grown 
paler and thinner, and the melancholy which 
had sat on his countenance before, banished 
for a time by her, had returned, with the 
addition of a look of wildness, that reminded 
her of the youth of Baden ; Elizabeth was 
shocked to remark these traces of suffering; 
and her next impulse was to ask, "What has 
happened? I fear some new misfortune has 
occurred." 

" It is the property of misfortune to be ever 
new," he replied, "to be always producing 
fresh and more miserable results. I have no 
right to press my feelings on you ; your bur- 
then is sufficient ; but I could not refrain any 
longer from seeing in what way adversity had 
exerted its pernicious influence over you." 

His manner was gloomy and agitated; she, 
resigned, devoted to her duties, commanding 
herself day by day to fulfil her task of patience, 
and of acquiring cheerfulness for Falkner's 
sake, imagined that some fresh disaster must 



174 FALKNER. 

be the occasion of these marks of emotion. 
She did not know that fruitless struggles to 
alleviate the evils of her situation, vain brood- 
ings over its horrors, and bitter regret at 
losing her, had robbed him of sleep, of appe- 
tite, of all repose. " I despise myself for my 
weakness," he said, " when I see your forti- 
tude. You are more than woman, more than 
human being ever was, and you must feel the 
utmost contempt for one, whom fortune bends 
and breaks as it does me. You are well, 
however, and half my dreams of misery have 
been false and vain. God guards and pre- 
serves you : I ought to have placed more faith 
in him." 

" But tell me, dear Mr. Neville, tell me 
what has happened?" 

"Nothing!" he replied; "and does not 
that imply the worst ? I cannot make up my 
mind to endure the visitation of ill fallen upon 
us; it drives me from place to place like an 
unlaid ghost. I am very selfish to speak in 



FALKNER. 175 

this manner. Yet it is your sufferings that 
fill my mind to bursting ; were all the evil 
poured on my own head, while you were spared, 
welcome, most welcome, would be the bitterest 
infliction ! but you, Elizabeth, you are my cruel 
father's victim, and the future will be more 
hideous than the hideous present!" 

Elizabeth was shocked and surprised; what 
could he mean ? " The future," she replied, 
"will bring my dear father's liberation ; how 
then can that be so bad ?" 

He looked earnestly and inquiringly on her. 
"Yes," she continued, "my sorrows, heavy 
as they are, have not that additional pang ; I 
have no doubt of the ultimate justice that 
will be rendered my father. We have much 
to endure in the interim, much that under- 
mines the fortitude, and visits the heart with 
sickening throes ; there is no help but pa- 
tience ; let us have patience, and this adversity 
will pass away ; the prison and the trial will 



176 FALKNER. 

be over, and freedom and security again be 
ours." 

"I see how it is," replied Neville; "we 
each live in a world of our own, and it is 
wicked in me to give you a glimpse of the 
scene as it is presented to me." 

"Yet speak; explain!" said Elizabeth ; "you 
have frightened me so much that any expla- 
nation must be better than the thoughts which 
your words, your manner, suggest." 

" Nay," said Neville, "do not let my follies 
infect you. Your views, your hopes, are 
doubtless founded on reason. It is, if you 
will forgive the allusion that may seem too 
light for so sad a subject, but the old story of 
the silver and brazen shield. I see the dark, 
the fearful side of things ; I live among your 
enemies — that is, the enemies of Mr. Falkner. 
I hear of nothing but his guilt, and the expia- 
tion prepared for it. I am maddened by all 
I hear. 



FALKNER. 177 

" I have implored my father not to pursue 
his vengeance. Convinced as I am of the 
truth of Mr. Falkner's narration, the idea 
that one so gifted should be made over to the 
fate that awaits him is abhorrent, and when 
I think that you are involved in such a scene 
of wrong and horror, my blood freezes in my 
veins. I have implored my father, I have 
quarrelled with him, I have made Sophia 
advocate the cause of justice against malice; 
all in vain. Could you see the old man — my 
father I mean; pardon my irreverence — how 
he revels in the demoniacal hope of revenge, 
and with what hideous delight he gloats upon 
the detail of ignominy to be inflicted on one 
so much his superior in every noble quality, 
you would feel the loathing I do. He heaps 
sarcasm and contempt on my feeble spirit, as 
he names my pardon of my mother's destroyer, 
my esteem for him, and my sympathy for 
you ; but that does not touch me. It is the 
knowledge that he will succeed, and you be 

I 3 



178 FALKNER. 

lost and miserable for ever, that drives me to 
desperation. 

" I fancied that these thoughts must pursue 
you, even more painfully than they do me. 
I saw you writhing beneath the tortures of 
despair, wasting away under the influence of 
intense misery. You haunted my dreams, 
accompanied by every image of horror — some- 
times you were bleeding, ghastly, dying — 
sometimes you took my poor mother's form, 
as Falkner describes it, snatched cold and 
pale from the waves — other visions flitted by, 
still more frightful. Despairing of moving 
my father, abhorring the society of every 
human being, I have been living for the last 
month at Dromore. A few days ago my 
father arrived there. I wondered till I heard 
the cause. The time for expecting Osborne 
had arrived. As vultures have instinct for 
carrion, so he swooped down at the far off 
scent of evil fortune ; he had an emissary at 
Liverpool, on the watch to hear of this man's 



FALKNER. 179 

arrival. Disgusted at this foul appetite for 
evil, I left him. I came here, — only to see 
you ; to gaze on you afar, was to purify the 
world of the ' blasts from hell,' which the bad 
passions I have so long contemplated spread 
round me. My father learned whither I had 
gone, I had a letter from him this morning — 
you may guess at its contents." 

" He triumphs in Osborne's refusal to ap- 
pear," said Elizabeth, who was much moved 
by the picture of hatred and malice Neville had 
presented to her ; and trembled from head to 
foot as she listened, from the violent emotions 
his account excited, and the vehemence of 
his manner as he spoke. 

" He does, indeed, triumph," replied Ne- 
ville ; "and you — you and Mr. Falkner, do you 
not despair?" 

" If you could see my dear father," said 
Elizabeth, her courage returning at the 
thought, " you would see how innocence, and 
a noble mind can sustain ; at the worst, he does 



180 FALKNER. 

not despair. He bears the present with forti- 
tude, he looks to the future with resignation. 
His soul is firm, his spirit inflexible." 

" And you share these feelings?" 

" Partly, I do, and partly I have other 
thoughts to support me. Osborne's cowardice 
is a grievous blow, but it must be remedied. 
The man we sent to bring him was too easily 
discouraged. Other means must be tried. I 
shall go to America, I shall see Osborne, and 
you cannot doubt of my success." 

"You?" cried Neville; "you, to go to 
America ? you to follow the traces of a man 
who hides himself? Impossible ! This is worse 
madness than all. Does Falkner consent to so 
senseless an expedition ?" 

"You use strong expressions," interrupted 
Elizabeth. 

" I do," he replied ; " and I have a right to 
do so — I beg your pardon. But my meaning 
is justifiable — you must not undertake this 
voyage. It is as useless as improper. Sup- 



FALKNER. 181 

pose yourself arrived on the shores of wide 
America. You seek a man who conceals him- 
self, you know not where ; can you perambu- 
late large cities, cross wide extents of country, 
go from town to town in search of him ? It is 
by personal exertion alone that he can be 
found ; and your age and sex wholly prevent 
that." 

" Yet I shall go,*' said Elizabeth thought- 
fully ; "so much is left undone, because we 
fancy it impossible to do ; which, upon endea- 
vour, is found plain and easy. If insurmount- 
able obstacles oppose themselves, I must 
submit, but I see none yet ; I have not the 
common fears of a person whose life has been 
spent in one spot ; I have been a traveller, and 
know that, but for the fatigue, it is as easy to 
go a thousand miles as a hundred. If there 
are dangers and difficulties, they will appear 
light to me, encountered for my dear father's 
sake." 

She looked beautiful as an angel, as she 



182 FALKNER. 

spoke ; her independent spirit had nothing 
rough in its texture. It did not arise from a 
love of opposition, but from a belief, that in 
fulfilling a duty, she could not be opposed or 
injured. Her fearlessness was that of a gene- 
rous heart, that could not believe in evil inten- 
tions. She explained more fully to her friend 
the reasons that induced her determination. 
She repeated Falkner's account of Osborne's 
character, the injury that it was believed 
would arise from his refusal to appear, and 
the probable facility of persuading him, were 
he addressed by one zealous in the cause. 

Neville listened attentively. She paused — 
he was lost in thought, and made no reply — 
she continued to speak, but he continued mute, 
till at last she said, " You are conquered, I 
know — you yield, and agree that my journey 
is a duty, a necessity." 

" We are both apt, it would seem," he re- 
plied, " to see our duties in a strong light, and 
to make sudden, or they may be called rash, 



FALKNER. 183 

resolutions. Perhaps we both go too far, and 
are in consequence reprehended by those about 
us : in each other, then, let us find approval — 
you must not go to America, for your going 
would be useless — with all your zeal you could 
not succeed. But I will go. Of course this 
act will be treated as madness, or worse, by 
Sir Boyvill and the rest — but my own mind 
assures me that I do right. For many years 
I devoted myself to discovering my mother's 
fate. I have discovered it. Falkner's nar- 
rative tells all. But clear and satisfactory as 
that is to me, others choose to cast frightful 
doubts over its truth, and conjure up images 
the most revolting. Have they any founda- 
tion ? I do not believe it — but many do — and 
all assert that the approaching trial alone can 
establish the truth. This trial is but a 
mockery, unless it is fair and complete — it 
cannot be that without Osborne. Surely, then, 
it neither misbecomes me as her son, nor as 



184 FALKNER. 

the son of Sir Boy vill, to undertake any action 
that will tend to clear up the mystery. 

" I am resolved — I shall go — be assured 
that I shall not return without Osborne. You 
will allow me to take your place, to act for 
you — you do not distrust my zeal." 

Elizabeth had regarded her own resolves as 
the simple dictates of reason and duty. But 
her heart was deeply touched by Neville's 
offer ; tears rushed into her eyes, as she 
replied in a voice faltering from emotion: " I 
fear this cannot be, it will meet with too much 
opposition ; but never, never can I repay your 
generosity in but imagining so great a service." 

" It is a service to both," he said, " and as 
to the opposition I shall meet, that is my 
affair. You know that nothing will stop me 
when once resolved. And I am resolved. 
The inner voice that cannot be mistaken as- 
sures me that I do right — I ask no other 
approval. A sense of justice, perhaps of com- 



FALKNER. 185 

passion, for the original author of all our 
wretchedness, ought probably to move me ; 
but I will not pretend to be better than I am : 
were Falkner alone concerned, I fear I should 
be but lukewarm. But not one cloud — nor 
the shadow of a cloud — shall rest on my mo- 
ther's fate. All shall be clear, all universally 
acknowledged ; nor shall your life be blotted, 
and your heart broken, by the wretched fate of 
him to whom you cling with matchless fidelity. 
He is innocent, I know ; but if the world 
thinks and acts by him as a murderer, how 
could you look up again ? Through you I 
succeeded in my task, to you I owe unspeak- 
able gratitude, which it is my duty to repay. 
Yet, away with such expressions. You know 
that my desire to serve you is boundless, that 
I love you beyond expression, that every 
injury you receive is trebled upon me — that 
vain were every effort of self-command ; I must 
do that thing that would benefit you, though 
the whole world rose to forbid. You are of 



186 FALKNER. 

more worth in your innocence and nobleness, 
than a nation of men such as my father. Do 
you think I can hesitate in my determinations 
thus founded, thus impelled ?" 

More vehement, more impassioned than 
Elizabeth, Neville bore down her objections, 
while he awakened all her tenderness and 
gratitude : " Now I prove myself your friend," 
he said proudly; ''now Heaven affords me 
opportunity to serve you, and I thank it." 

He looked so happy, so wildly delighted, 
while a more still, but not less earnest sense 
of joy filled her heart. They were young, and 
they loved — this of itself was bliss ; but the 
cruel circumstances around them added to 
their happiness, by drawing them closer to- 
gether, and giving fervour and confidence to 
their attachment ; and now that he saw a mode 
of serving her, and she felt entire reliance on 
his efforts, the last veil and barrier fell from 
between them, and their hearts became united 
by that perfect love which can result alone 



FALKNER. 187 

from entire confidence, and acknowledged un- 
shackled sympathy. 

Always actuated by generous impulses, but 
often rash in his determinations, and impe- 
tuous in their fulfilment ; full of the warmest 
sensibility, hating that the meanest thing that 
breathed should endure pain, and feeling the 
most poignant sympathy for all suffering, 
Neville had been maddened by his own 
thoughts, while he brooded over the position 
in which Elizabeth was placed. Not one of 
those various circumstances that alleviate dis- 
aster to those who endure it, presented them- 
selves to his imagination — he saw adversity in 
its most hideous form, without relief or dis- 
guise — names and images appending to Falk- 
ner's frightful lot, which he and Elizabeth 
carefully banished from their thoughts, haunt- 
ed him. The fate of the basest felon hung; over 
the prisoner — Neville believed that it must 
inevitably fall on him ; he often wondered 
that he did not contrive to escape, that Eliza- 



188 FALKNER. 

beth, devoted and heroic, did not contrive 
some means of throwing open his dungeon's 
doors. He had endeavoured to open his 
father's eyes, to soften his heart, in vain. He 
had exerted himself to discover whether any 
trace of long past circumstances existed that 
might tend to acquit Falkner. He had gone to 
Treby, visited the graves of the hapless parents 
of Elizabeth, seen Mrs. Baker, and gathered 
there the account of his landing ; but nothing 
helped to elucidate the mystery of his mother's 
death ; Falkner's own account was the only 
trace left behind ; that bore the stamp of truth 
in every line, and appeared to him so honour- 
able a tribute to poor Alithea's memory, that 
he looked with disgust on his father's endea- 
vours to cast upon it suspicions and interpre- 
tations, the most hideous and appalling. 

In the first instance, he had been bewildered 
by Sir Boyvill's sophistry, and half conquered 
by his plausible arguments. But a short time, 
and the very circumstance of Elizabeth's fide- 



FALKNEK. 



189 



lity to his cause, sufficed to show him the 
baseness of his motives, and the real injury he 
did his mother's fame. 

Resolved to clear the minds of other men 
from the prejudice against the prisoner thus 
spread abroad, and at least to secure a fair 
trial, Neville made no secret of his belief 
that Falkner was innocent. He represented 
him everywhere as a gentleman — a man of 
humanity and honour — whose crime ought to 
receive its punishment from his own con- 
science, and at the hand of the husband or 
son of the victim in the field ; and whom, to 
pursue as his father did, was at once futile 
and disgraceful. Sir Boyvill, irritated by 
Falkner's narrative ; his vanity wounded to the 
quick by the avowed indifference of his wife, 
was enraged beyond all bounds by the oppo- 
sition of his son. Unable to understand his 
generous nature, and relying on his previous 
zeal for his mother's cause, he had not doubted 
but that his revenge would find a ready ally in 



190 FALKNER. 

him. His present arguments, his esteem for 
their enemy, his desire that he should be 
treated with a forbearance which, between 
gentlemen, was but an adherence to the code 
of honour — appeared to Sir Boyvill insanity, 
and worse — a weakness the most despicable, 
a want of resentment the most low-minded. 
But he cared not — the game was in his hands 
— revelling in the idea of his enemy's igno- 
minious sufferings, he more than half-per- 
suaded himself that his accusation was true, 
and that the punishment of a convicted felon 
would at last satisfy his thirst for revenge. 
A feeble old man, tottering on the verge of 
the grave, he gloried to think that his grasp 
was still deadly, his power acknowledged in 
throes of agony, by him by whom he had been 
inj ured . 

Returning to Dromore from Carlisle, Gerard 
sought his father. Osborne's refusal to appear 
crowned Sir Boyvill's utmost hopes ; and his 
sarcastic congratulations, when he saw his 



FALKNER. 191 

son, expressed all the malice of his heart. 
Gerard replied with composure, that he did 
indeed fear that this circumstance would 
prove fatal to the course of justice; but that 
it must not tamely be submitted to, and that 
he himself was going to America to induce 
Osborne to come, that nothing might be 
wanting to elucidate the mystery of his 
mother's fate, and to render the coming trial 
full, fair, and satisfactory. Such an announce- 
ment rendered, for a moment, Sir Boyvill 
speechless with rage. A violent scene ensued. 
Gerard, resolved, and satisfied of the pro- 
priety of his resolution, was calm and firm. 
Sir Boyvill, habituated to the use of vitupe- 
rative expressions, boiled over with angry 
denunciations, and epithets of abuse. He 
called his son the disgrace of his family — the 
opprobrium of mankind — the detractor of his 
mother's fame. Gerard smiled ; yet, at heart, 
he deeply felt the misery of thus for ever 
finding an opponent in his father, and it re- 



192 FALKNER. 

quired all the enthusiasm and passion of his 
nature, to banish the humiliating and sadden- 
ing influence of Sir Boyvill's indignation. 

They parted worse friends than ever. Sir 
Boyvill set out for town ; Gerard repaired to 
Liverpool. The wind was contrary — there was 
little hope of change. He thought that it 
would conduce to his success in America, if he 
spent the necessary interval in seeing Hoskins 
again; and also in consulting with his friend, 
the American minister; so, in all haste, having 
first secured his passage on board a vessel that 
was to sail in four or live days, he also set out 
for London. 



FALKNER. • 193 



CHAPTER XIII. 



The philosophy of Falkner was not proof 
against the intelligence, that Gerard Neville 
was about to undertake the voyage to America 
for the sake of inducing Osborne to come over. 
Elizabeth acquainted him with her design, 
and her friend's determination to replace her, 
with sparkling eyes, and cheeks flushed by 
the agitation of pleasure — the pure pleasure 
of having such proof of the worth of him she 
loved. Falkner was even more deeply touched ; 
even though he felt humiliated by the very 
generosity that filled him with admiration. His 

VOL. III. K 



194 



FALKNER. 



blood was stirred, and his feelings tortured him 
by a sense of his own demerits, and the excellence 
of one he had injured. " Better die without a 
word than purchase my life thus !" were the 
words hovering on his lips — yet it was no base 
cost that he paid — and he could only rejoice at 
the virtues of the son of her whom he had 
so passionately loved. There are moments 
when the past is remembered with intolerable 
agony ; and when to alter events, which 
occurred at the distance of many years, be- 
comes a passion and a thirst. His regret at 
Alithea's marriage seemed all renewed — his 
agony that thenceforth she was not to be the 
half of his existence, as he had hoped ; that 
her child was not his child ; that her daily life, 
her present pleasures, and future hopes were 
divorced from his — all these feelings were re- 
vived, together with a burning jealousy, as if, 
instead of being a buried corpse, she had still 
adorned her home with her loveliness and 
virtues. 



FALKNER. 195 

Such thoughts lost their poignancy by de- 
grees, and he could charm Elizabeth by dwell- 
ing on Gerard's praises ; and he remarked with 
pleasure, that she resumed her vivacity, and 
recovered the colour and elasticity of motion, 
which she had lost. She did not feel less for 
Falkner : but her contemplations had lost their 
sombre hue — they were full of Neville — his 
voyage — his exertions — his success — his re- 
turn ; and the spirit of love that animated each 
of these acts, were gone over and over again 
in her waking dreams ; unbidden smiles gleam- 
ed in her countenance; her ideas were gaily 
coloured, and her conversation gained a variety 
and cheerfulness, that lightened the burthen of 
their prison hours. 

Meanwhile Neville arrived in London. He 
visited the American minister, and learned 
from him, that Osborne had given up the 
place he held, and had left Washington — no 
one knew whither he was gone — these events 
being still too recent to leave any trace behind . 

k 2 



196 FALKNER. 

It was evident that to seek and find him would 
be a work of trouble and time, and Neville 
felt that not a moment must be lost — Decem- 
ber was drawing to a close. The voyages to 
and from America might, if not favourable, 
consume the whole interval that still remained 
before the spring assizes. Hoskins, he learned, 
was gone to Liverpool. 

He visited Lady Cecil before he left town. 
Though somewhat tainted by worldliness, yet 
this very feeling made her highly disapprove 
Sir Boyvill's conduct. A plausible, and she 
believed true, account was given of Mrs. 
Neville's death — exonerating her — redounding 
indeed to her honour. It was injurious to all 
to cast doubts upon this tale — it was vulgar 
and base to pursue revenge with such ma- 
licious and cruel pertinacity. Falkner was a 
gentleman, and deserved to be treated as 
such ; and now he and Elizabeth were mixed 
up in loathsome scenes and details, that made 
Lady Cecil shudder even to think of. 



FALKNER. 197 

That Gerard should go to America as the 
advocate, as it were, of Falkner, startled her ; 
but he represented his voyage in a simpler 
light, as not being undertaken for his benefit, 
but for the sake of justice and truth. Sir 
Boyvill came in upon them while they were 
discussing this measure. He was absolutely 
frenzied by his son's conduct and views ; his 
exasperation but tended to disgust, and did 
not operate to shake their opinions. 

Neville hastened back to Liverpool ; — a 
south-west wind reigned, whose violence pre- 
vented any vessel from sailing for America ; 
it was evident that the passage would be long, 
and perhaps hazardous. Neville thought only 
of the delay; but this made him anxious. A 
portion of his time was spent in seeking for 
Hoskins ; but he was not to be found. At last 
it was notified to him, that the wind had a 
little changed, and that the packet was about 
to sail. He hurried on board — soon they were 
tossing on a tempestuous sea — they lost sight 



198 FALKNER, 

of land — sky and ocean, each dusky, and the 
one rising at each moment into more tumul- 
tuous commotion, surrounded them. Neville, 
supporting himself by a rope, looked out over 
the horizon — a few months before he had 
anticipated the same voyage over a summer 
sea — now he went under far other auspices — 
the veil was raised — the mystery explained ; 
but the wintry storms that had gathered round 
him, were but types of the tempestuous pas- 
sions which the discoveries he had made, raised 
in the hearts of all. 

For three days and nights the vessel beat 
about in the Irish Channel, unable to make 
any way — three days were thus lost to their 
voyage — and when were they to arrive ? — Im- 
patient — almost terrified by the delay which 
attended his endeavours, Neville began to 
despair of success. On the fourth night the 
gale rose to a hurricane — there was no choice 
but to run before it — by noon the following 
day the captain thought himself very lucky 



FALKNER. 199 

to make the harbour of Liverpool, and though 
the gale had much abated, and the wind had 
veered into a more favourable quarter, it was 
necessary to run in to refit. With bitter 
feelings of disappointment, Neville disem- 
barked ; several days must elapse before the 
packet would be able to put to sea, so he 
abandoned the idea of going by her — and 
finding a New York merchantman preparing 
to sail at an early hour, the following morn- 
ing, he resolved to take his passage on board. 
He hastened to the American coffee-house to 
see the captain, and make the necessary 
arrangements for his voyage. 

The captain had just left the tavern ; but a 
waiter came up to Neville, and told him that 
the Mr. Hoskins, concerning whom he had 
before inquired, was in the house — in a private 
room. "Show me to him," said Neville, and 
followed the man as he went to announce him. 

Hoskins was not alone — he had a friend 
with him, and they were seated over their 



200 FALKNER. 

wine on each side of the fire. Neville could 
not help being struck with the confusion 
evinced by both as he entered. The person 
with Hoskins was a fair, light-haired, rather 
good-looking man, though past the prime of 
life — he had at once an expression of good- 
nature, and cunning in his face, and, added to 
this, a timid baffled look— which grew into 
something very like dismay when the waiter 
announced " Mr. Neville" — 

" Good morning, sir," said Hoskins, " I 
hear that you have been inquiring for me. 
I thought all our business was settled." 

"On your side, probably," replied Neville; 
on mine I have reasons for wishing to see 
you. I have been seeking you in vain in Lon- 
don, and here." 

"Yes, I know," said the other, "I went 
round by Ravenglass to take leave of the old 
woman before I crossed — and here I am, my 
passage taken, with not an hour to lose. I 
sail by the Owyhee, Captain Bateman." 



FALKNER. 



201 



"Then we shall have time enough for all 
my inquiries," observed Neville. " I came 
here for the very purpose of arranging my 
passage with Captain Bateman." 

"You, sir! are you going to America? I 
thought that was all at an end." 

" It is more necessary than ever. I must 
see Osborne — I must bring him over— his 
testimony is necessary to clear up the mys- 
tery that hangs over my mother's fate." 

" You are nearer hanging Mr. Falkner 
without him than with him," said Hoskins. 

" I would bring him over for the very purpose 
of saving a man whom I believe to be inno- 
cent of the crime he is charged with ; for that 
purpose I go to America, I wish the truth to be 
established — I have no desire for revenge." 

" And do you really go to America for that 
purpose?" repeated Hoskins. 

" Certainly — I consider it my duty," replied 
Neville. " Nay, it may be said that I went 
for this design, for I sailed by the John 

k 3 



202 FALKNER. 

Adams — which has been driven back by con- 
trary winds. I disembarked only half an hour 
ago." 

' 'That beats all!" cried Hoskins. "Why, do 
you know — I have more than half a mind to 
tell you — you had really sailed for America for 
the purpose of bringing Osborne over, and 
you now intend taking a passage on board the 
Owyhee ?" 

"Certainly; why not? — What is there so 
strange in all this ? — I sought you for the 
sake of making inquiries that might guide 
me in my search for Osborne, who wishes to 
conceal himself." 

"You could not have addressed a better 
man — by the Lord! He's a craven, and de- 
serves no better ; so I'll just let out, Mr. 
Neville, that Osborne sneaked out of this 
room at the instant he saw you come into it." 

Neville had seen Hoskins's companion dis- 
appear — he thought it but an act of civility — 
the strangeness of this coincidence, the course 



FALKNER. 203 

of events at once so contrary, and so pro- 
pitious, staggered him for a moment. " They 
tell of the rattlesnake," said Hoskins, " that 
fixing its eye on its prey, a bird becomes 
fascinated, and wheels round nearer and nearer 
till he falls into the jaws of the enemy — poor 
Osborne! He wishes himself on the shores 
of the Pacific, to be far enough off — and here 
he is, and turn and twist as he will, it will 
end by the law grasping him by the shoulder, 
and dragging him to the very noose he so 
fears to slip into ; — not that he helped to murder 
the lady — you do not believe that, Mr. Neville? 
— you do not think that the lady was mur- 
dered ?" 

" I would stake my existence that she was 
not," said Neville; "were it otherwise, I 
should have no desire to see Osborne, or to 
interfere. Strange, most strange it is, that he 
should be here ; and he is come, you think, 
with no design of offering his testimony to 
clear Mr. Falkner?" 



204 FALKNER. 

" He is come under a feigned name/' replied 
Hoskins ; " under pretence that he was sent by 
Osborne — he has brought a quantity of attested 
declarations, and hopes to serve Mr. Falkner, 
without endangering his own neck." 

It was even so. Osborne was a weak man, 
good-hearted, as it is called, but a craven. 
No sooner did he hear that Hillary had sailed 
for Europe, and that he might consider him- 
self safe, than he grew uneasy on another 
score. He had still possession, even while he 
had denied all knowledge of the writer, of 
Falkner's letter, representing to him the 
necessity of coming over. It was simply but 
forcibly written ; every word went to the 
heart of Osborne, now that he believed that 
his conduct would make over his generous 
benefactor to an ignominious end. This idea 
haunted him like an unlaid ghost ; yet, if they 
hanged Falkner, what should prevent them 
from hanging him too? suspicion must fall 
equally on both. 



FALKNER. 205 

When Hillary had urged the case, many 
other objections had presented themselves to 
Osborne's mind. He thought of the new 
honest course he had pursued so long, the 
honourable station he had gained, the inde- 
pendence and respectability of his present life ; 
and he shrunk from giving up these advan- 
tages, and becoming again, in all men's eyes, 
the Osborne whose rascality he had left 
behind in England; it seemed hard that he 
should feel the weight of the chain that bound 
his former existence to his present one, when 
he fondly hoped that time had broken it. But 
these minor considerations vanished, as soon 
as the idea of Falkner's danger fastened itself 
on his mind. It is always easy to fall back 
upon a state of being which once was ours. 
The uncertain, disreputable life Osborne had 
once led, he had gladly bidden adieu to, but 
the traces were still there, and he could fall into 
the way of it without any great shock. Besides 
this, he knew that Hillary had made his 



206 FALKNER. 

coming, and the cause of it, known to the 
legal authorities in Washington ; and though 
he might persist in his denials, still he felt 
that he should be universally disbelieved. 

A dislike at being questioned and looked 
askance upon by his American friends, made 
him already turn his eyes westward. A long- 
ing to see the old country arose unbidden in 
his heart. Above all, he could neither rest 
nor sleep, nor eat, nor perform any of the 
offices of life, for the haunting image of his 
benefactor, left by him to die a felon's death. 
Not that he felt tempted to alter his deter- 
mination, and to come forward to save him : on 
the contrary, his blood grew chill, and his 
flesh shrunk at the thought ; but still he 
might conceal himself in England ; no one 
would suspect him of being there ; he would 
be on the spot to watch the course of events ; 
and if it was supposed that he could render 
any assistance, without compromising himself, 
he should at least be able to judge fairly how 



FALKNER. 207 

far he might concede : his vacillating mind 
could go no further in its conclusions. Hoskins 
had rightly compared him to the bird and the 
rattlesnake. He was fascinated ; he could 
not avoid drawing nearer and nearer to the 
danger which he believed to be yawning to 
swallow him ; ten days after Hillary left 
America, he was crossing the Atlantic. Hos- 
kins was the first person he saw on landing, 
the second was Neville. His heart grew cold; 
he felt himself in the toils ; how bitterly he 
repented his voyage. Coward as he was, he 
died a thousand deaths, from fear of that one 
which, in fact, there was no danger of his 
incurring. 

That Osborne should of his own accord have 
come to England appeared to smooth every 
thing. Neville did not doubt that he should 
be able to persuade him to come forward at 
the right time. He instructed Hoskins to 
re-assure him, and to induce him to see him ; 
and, if he objected, to contrive that they should 



208 FALKNER. 

meet. He promised to take no measures for 
securing his person, but to leave him in all 
liberty to act as he chose ; he depended that 
the same uneasy conscience that brought him 
from America to Liverpool, would induce him 
at last, after various throes and struggles, 
to act as it was supposed he would have done 
at the beginning. 

But day after day passed, and Osborne was 
not to be found ; Hoskins had never seen him 
again, and it was impossible to say whither 
he was gone, or where he was hid. The 
Owyhee, whose voyage had again been delayed 
by contrary winds, now sailed. Hoskins went 
with her. It was possible that Osborne might 
be on board, returning to the land of refuge. 
Neville saw the captain, and he denied having 
such a passenger ; but he might be bound to 
secrecy, or Osborne might have disguised 
himself. Neville went on board ; he carefully 
examined each person ; he questioned both 
crew and passengers; he even bribed the 



FALKNER. 



209 



sailors to inform him if any one were secreted. 
The Owyhee was not, however, the only vessel 
sailing ; nearly thirty packets and merchant- 
men, who had heen detained by foul winds, 
were but waiting for a tide to carry them out. 
Neville deliberated whether he should not 
apply to a magistrate for a search-warrant. 
He was averse to this — nay,- repugnant. It 
was of the first importance to the utility of 
Osborne as a witness, that he should sur- 
render himself voluntarily. The seizing him 
by force, as an accomplice in the murder, 
would only place him beside Falkner in the 
dock, and render his evidence of no avail ; 
and his, Neville's, causing his arrest, could 
only be regarded as a piece of rancorous 
hostility against the accused ; yet to suffer 
him to depart from the English shores was 
madness, and worse still, to be left in doubt 
of whether he had gone or remained. If the 
first were ascertained, Neville could take his 



210 FALKNER. 

passage also, and there might still be time to 
bring him back. 

When we act for another, we are far more 
liable to hesitation than when onr deeds regard 
ourselves only. We dread to appear luke- 
warm ; we dread to mar all by officious- 
ncss. Ill-success always appears a fault, and 
yet we dare not make a bold venture — such 
as we should not hesitate upon were it our 
own cause. Neville felt certain that Falkner 
would not himself deliberate, but risk all to 
possess himself of the person of Osborne ; 
still he dared not take so perilous, perhaps so 
fatal, a step. 

The tide rose, and the various docks filled. 
One by one the American-bound vessels dropped 
out, and put to sea. It was a moment of 
agony to Neville to see their sails unfurl, 
swell to the wind, and make a speedy and 
distant offing. He now began to accuse him- 
self bitterly of neglect — he believed that there 



FALKNER. 211 

was but one mode of redeeming his fault — to 
hurry on board one of the packets, and to 
arrive in America as soon as Osborne, whom he 
felt convinced was already on his way thither. 
Swift in his convictions, rash in execution, 
uncertainty was peculiarly hostile to his nature ; 
and these moments of vacillation and doubt, 
and then of self-reproach at having* lost all in 
consequence, were the most painful of his life. 
To determine to do something was some con- 
solation, and now he resolved on his voyage. 
He hurried back to his hotel for a few neces- 
saries and money. On his entrance, a letter 
was put into his hands — the contents changed 
the whole current of his ideas. His counte- 
nance cleared up — the tumult of his thoughts 
subsided into a happy calm. Changing all his 
plans, instead of undertaking a voyage to 
America, he the same evening set out for 
London. 



212 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER XIV. 



The prisoner and his faithful companion 
knew nothing of these momentous changes. 
Day by day Elizabeth withdrew from the fire 
to the only window in her father's room ; 
moving her embroidery table close to it, her 
eyes turned, however, to the sky, instead of to 
the flowers she was working; and leaning her 
cheek upon her hand, she perpetually watched 
the clouds. Gerard was already, she fancied, 
on the world of waters ; yet the clouds did not 
change their direction — they all sped one way, 
and that contrary to his destination. Thus she 



FALKNER. 213 

passed her mornings ; and when she returned 
to her own abode, where her heart could 
more entirely spend its thoughts on her lover 
and his voyage, her lonely room was no 
longer lonely ; nor the gloomy season any 
longer gloomy. More than happy — a breath- 
less rapture quickened the beatings of her 
heart, as she told over again and again Neville's 
virtues, and dearer than all, his claims on her 
gratitude. 

Falkner saw with pleasure the natural 
effects of love and hope add to the cheerful- 
ness of his beloved child, diffuse a soft charm 
over her person, her motions, and her voice, 
and impart a playful tenderness to her before 
rather serious manners. Youth, love, and 
happiness are so very beautiful in their con- 
junction. " God grant," he thought, " I do 
not mar this fair creature's life — may she be 
happier than Alithea ; if man can be worthy of 
her, Gerard Neville surely is/' As he turned 
his eyes silently from the book that apparently 



214 FALKNER. 

occupied him, and contemplated her pensive 
countenance, whose expression showed that 
she was wrapped in, yet enjoying her thoughts, 
retrospect made him sad. He went over his own 
life, its clouded morning, the glad beams that 
broke out to dissipate those clouds, and the 
final setting amidst tempests and wreck. Was 
all life like this, must all be disappointed 
hope, baffled desires, lofty imaginations en- 
gendering fatal acts, and bringing the proud 
thus low ? would she at his age view life as he 
did — a weary wilderness — a tangled, endless 
labyrinth, leading by one rough path or 
another to a bitter end ? He hoped not, her 
innocence must receive other reward from 
Heaven. 

It was on a day as they were thus occupied — 
Falkner refrained from interrupting Eliza- 
beth's reverie, which he felt was sweeter to 
her than any converse — and appeared ab- 
sorbed in reading ; suddenly she exclaimed, 
"The wind has changed, dear father ; indeed 



FALKNER. 215 

it has changed, it is favourable now. Do you 
not feel how much colder it is ? the wind has 
got to the north, there is a little east in it; 
his voyage will not be a long one, if this 
change only lasts !" 

Falkner answered her by a smile; but it was 
humiliating to think of the object of that voy- 
age, and her cheerful voice announcing that it 
was to be prosperous, struck, he knew not why, 
a saddening chord. At this moment he heard 
the bolts of the chamber-door pushed back, 
and the key turn in the lock — the turnkey 
entered, followed by another man, who hesi- 
tated as lie came forward, and then as he 
glanced at the inhabitants of the room, drew 
back, saying, " There is some mistake ; Mr. 
Falkner is not here." 

But for his habitual self-command, Falkner 
had started up, and made an exclamation — so 
surprised was he to behold the person who 
entered — for he recognized his visitant on the 
instant — he, himself, was far more changed 



216 FALKNER. 

by the course of years ; time, sickness, and 
remorse had used other than Praxitilean art, 
and had defaced the lines of grace and power, 
which had marked him many years ago, before 
his hands had dug Alithea's grave. He was 
indeed surprised to see who entered ; but he 
showed no sign of wonder, only saying with 
a calm smile, " No, there is no mistake, I am 
the man you seek." 

The other now apparently recognized him, 
and advanced timidly, and in confusion — the 
turnkey left them, and Falkner then said, 
" Osborne, you deserve my thanks for this, 
but I did believe that it would come to this." 

" No," said Osborne, " I do not deserve 
thanks — I — " and he looked confused, and 
o-lanced towards Elizabeth. Falkner followed 
his eye, and understanding his look, said, 
" You do not fear being betrayed by a lady, 
Osborne, you are safe here as in America. I 
see how it is, you are here under a false name ; 
no one is aware that you are the man, who a 



FALKNER. 217 

few weeks ago refused to appear to save a 
fellow-creature from death." 

" I see no way to do that now," replied 
Osborne, hesitating; " I do not come for that, 
I come — I could not stay away — I thought 
something might be done." 

" Elizabeth, my love," said Falkner, "you, 
at least, will thank Mr. Osborne for his spon- 
taneous services— you are watching the clouds 
which were to bear along the vessel towards 
him, and beyond our hopes he • is already 
here." 

Elizabeth listened breathlessly — she feared 
to utter a word lest it might prove a dream — 
now, gathering Falkner's meaning, she came 
forward, and with all a woman's grace ad- 
dressed the trembling man, who already looked 
at the door as if he longed to be on the other 
side, fearful that he was caught in his own 
toils ; for, as Hoskins said, the fascinated prey 
had wheeled yet nearer to his fate involun- 
tarily — he had been unable to resist his desire 

VOL. III. L 



218 FALKNER. 

to see Falkner, and learn how it was with him, 
but he still resolved not to risk any thing ; he 
had represented himself to the magistrates as 
coming from Osborne, showing false papers, and 
a declaration drawn up by him at Washington, 
and attested before official men there, setting 
forth Falkner's innocence ; he had brought 
this over to see if it would serve his benefac- 
tor, and had thus got access to him : such was 
his reliance on the honour of his patron that 
he had not hesitated in placing himself in his 
power, well aware that he should not be de- 
tained by him against his will ; for still his 
heart quailed, and his soul shrunk from ren- 
dering him the service that would save his life. 
His manner revealed his thoughts to the 
observant Falkner, but Elizabeth, less well 
read in men's hearts, younger and more san- 
guine, saw in his arrival the completion of her 
hopes, and she thanked him with so much 
warmth, and with such heartfelt praises of 
his kindness and generosity, that Osborne 



FALKNER. 219 

began to think that his greatest difficulty 
would be in resisting her fascination, and disap- 
pointing her wishes. He stammered out at last 
some lame excuses. All he could do consis- 
tently with safety, they might command ; he 
had shown this by coming over — more could 
not be asked, could not be expected — he him- 
self, God knew, was innocent, so was Mr. 
Falkner, of the crime he was charged with. 
But he had no hand whatever in the transac- 
tion, he was not in his confidence, he had not 
known even who the lady was ; his testimony, 
after all, must be worth nothing, for he had 
nothing to tell, and for this he was to expose 
himself to disgrace and death. 

Acquiring courage at the sound of his own 
voice, Osborne grew fluent. Elizabeth drew 
back — she looked anxiously at Falkner, and 
saw a cloud of displeasure and scorn gather 
over his countenance — she put her hand on 
his, as if to check the outbreak of his indig- 
nation ; yet she herself, as Osborne went on, 

l 2 



220 FALKNER. 

turned her eyes flashing with disdain upon him. 
The miserable fellow, cowed before the glances 
of both, he shifted from one foot to the other, 
he dared not look up, but he knew that their 
eyes were on him, and he felt the beams trans- 
fix him, and wither up his soul. There are 
weak men who yield to persuasion, there are 
weaker who are vanquished by reproaches and 
contempt ; of such was Osborne. His fluency 
faded into broken accents ; his voice died away 
— as a last effort, he moved towards the door, 

" Enough, sir," said Falkner, in a calm, 
contemptuous voice; "and now begone — 
hasten away — do not stop till you have gained 
the shore, the ship, the waves of the Atlantic : 
be assured I shall not send for you a second 
time, I have no desire to owe my life to you." 

" If I could save your life, Mr. Falkner," he 
began; " but" 

" We will not argue that point," interrupted 
Falkner; "it is enough that it is generally 
asserted that your testimony is necessary for 



FALKNER. 



221 



my preservation. Were my crime as great as it 
is said to be, it would find its punishment in 
that humiliation. Go, sir, you are safe ! I 
would not advise you to loiter here, return to 
America; walls have ears in abodes like these ; 
you may be forced to save a fellow-creature 
against your will ; hasten then away, go, eat, 
drink and be merry — whatever betides me, not 
even my ghost shall haunt you. Meanwhile, 
I would beg you no longer to insult me by your 
presence — begone at once." 

" You are angry, sir," said Osborne timidly. 

"I hope not," replied Falkner, who had 
indeed felt his indignation rise, and checked 
himself; " I should be very sorry to feel anger 
against a coward ; I pity you — you will repent 
this when too late." 

" Oh do not say so," cried Elizabeth ; "do not 
say he will repent when too late— but now, in 
time, I am sure that he repents ; do you not, 
Mr. Osborne? You are told that your fears 
are vain ; you know Mr. Falkner is; far too 



222 FALKNER. 

noble to draw you into danger to save him- 
self—you know even that he does not fear 
death, but ignominy, eternal horrible disgrace, 
and the end, the frightful end prepared, even 
he must recoil from that — and you — no, you 
cannot in cold blood, and with calm fore- 
thought, make him over to it — you cannot, I 
see that you cannot" 

" Forbear, Elizabeth!" interrupted Falkner 
in a tone of displeasure; " I will not have my 
life, nor even my honour, begged by you ; let 
the worst come, the condemnation, the hang- 
man — I can bear all, except the degradation of 
supplicating such a man as that." 

" I see how it is," said Osborne. " Yes — 
you do with me as you will — I feared this, 
and yet I thought myself firm ; do with me as 
you will — call the gaoler — I will surrender 
myself." He turned pale as death, and tot- 
tered to a chair. 

Falkner turned his back on him — " Go, sir ! " 
he repeated, " I reject your sacrifice." 



FALKNER. 223 

" No, father, no," cried Elizabeth eagerly ; 
i\ say not so — you accept it — and I also with 
thanks and gratitude: yet it is no sacrifice, 
Mr. Osborne — I assure you that is not, at 
least, the sacrifice you fear — all is far' easier 
than you think — there is no prison for you— 
your arrival need not yet be known— your con- 
sent being obtained, a pardon will be at once 
granted — you are to appear as a witness— not 
as a — "her voice faltered — she turned to 
Falkner, her eyes brimming over with tears. 
Osborne caught the infection, he was touched 
— he was cheered also by Elizabeth's assur- 
ances, which he hoped that he might believe ; 
hitherto he had been too frightened and be- 
wildered to hear accurately even what he had 
been told— he fancied that he must be tried— 
the pardon might or might not come after- 
wards — the youth, earnestness, and winning 
beauty of Elizabeth moved him ; and now 
that his fears were a little allayed, he could see 
more clearly^ he was even more touched by, 



224 FALK>'ER. 

the appearance of his former benefactor. 
Dignity and yet endurance — suffering as well as 
fortitude — marked his traits ; there was some- 
thing so innately noble, and yet so broken by 
fortune, expressed in his commanding yet at- 
tenuated features and person — he was a wreck 
that spoke so plainly of the glorious being he 
had once been ; there was so much majesty in 
his decay — such real innocence sat on his high 
and open brow, streaked though it was with 
disease — such lofty composure in his counte- 
nance, pale from confinement, and suffering — 
that Osborne felt a mixture of respect and 
pity that soon rose above every other feeling. 

Reassured with regard to himself, and look- 
ing on his patron with eyes that caught the 
infection of Elizabeth's tears, he came for- 
ward — " I beg your pardon, Mr. Falkner," he 
said, " for my doubts — for my cowardice, if you 
please so to name it ; I request you to forget 
it, and to permit me to come forward in your 
behalf. I trust you will not disdain my offer; 



FALKNER. 



225 



though late, it comes, I assure you, from my 
heart." 

There was no mock dignity about Falkner, a 
sunny smile broke over his features as he held 
out his hand to Osborne. " And from my 
heart, I thank you," he replied, " and deeply 
regret that you are to suffer any pain through 
me — mine was the crime, you the instrument ; 
it is hard, very hard, that you should be 
brought to this through your complaisance 
to me ; real danger for you there is none — or 
I would die this worst death rather than ex- 
pose you to it." 

Elizabeth now, in all gladness, wrote a hasty 
note; desiring; Mr. Colville to come to them, 
that all might at once be arranged. "And 
Gerard, dear father," she said, "we must 
write to Mr. Neville to recall him from his 
far and fruitless journey." 

" Mr. Neville is in Liverpool," said Os- 
borne ; "I saw him the very day before I 

came awav — he doubtless was on the look out 

■- ./ • --- - 

L 3 



226 FALKNER. 

for me, and I dare swear Hoskins betrayed 
me. We must be on our guard " — 

" Fear nothing from Mr. Neville," replied 
Elizabeth; "he is too good and generous not 
to advocate justice and truth. He is con- 
vinced of my father's innocence." 

They were interrupted — the solicitor entered 
— -Osborne's appearance was beyond his hopes 
— he could not believe in so much good for- 
tune. He had begun to doubt, suspect, and 
fear — he speedily carried off his godsend, as 
he named him, to talk over, and bring into 
form his evidence, and all that appertained to 
his surrender — thus leaving Falkner with his 
adopted child. 

Such a moment repaid for much ; for Eli- 
zabeth's hopes were high, and she knelt be- 
fore Falkner, embracing his knees, thanking 
Heaven in a rapture of gratitude. He also 
was thankful ; yet mortification and wounded 
pride struggled in his heart with a sense of 
gratitude for unhoped-for preservation. His 



FALKNER. 227 

haughty spirit rebelled against the obligation 
he owed to so mean a man as Osborne. It 
required hours of meditation — of reawakened 
remorse for Alithea's fate — of renewed wishes 
that she should be vindicated before all the 
world — of remembered love for the devoted 
girl at his feet, to bring him back from the 
tumult of contending passions, to the fortitude 
and humility which he at every moment strove 
to cultivate. 

Elizabeth's sweet voice dispelled such 
storms, and rewarded him for the serenity he 
at last regained. It was impossible not to. 
feel sympathy in her happiness, and joy in 
possessing the affection of so gentle, yet so 
courageous and faithful a heart. Elizabeth's 
happiness was even more complete when she 
left him, and sat in her solitary room — there, 
where Gerard had so lately visited her, and 
his image, and her gratitude towards him 
mingled more with her thoughts : her last act 
that night, was to write to him, to tell him 



228 FALKNER. 

what had happened. It was her note that he 
received at Liverpool on the eve of his second 
departure, and which had changed his pur- 
pose. He had immediately set out for London 
to communicate the good tidings to Lady 
Cecil. 



! 



FALKSER. 229 

Jooqi 

I 



CHAPTER XV. 



These had been hours of sunshine for the 
prisoner and his child, such as seldom visit 
the precincts of a gaol, and soon, too soon 
they changed, and the usual gloom returned 
to the abode of suffering. In misfortune va- 
rious moods assail us. At first we are struck, 
stunned, and overwhelmed ; then the elastic 
spirit rises, it tries to shape misery in its own 
way, it adapts itself to it ; it finds unknown 
consolations arise out of circumstances which 
in moments of prosperity were unregarded. 
But this temper of mind is not formed for 



230 



FALKNER. 



endurance. As a sick person finds comfort in 
a new posture at first, but after a time the 
posture becomes restrained and wearisome ; 
thus after mustering fortitude, patience, the 
calm spirit of philosophy, and the tender one 
of piety, and finding relief; suddenly the 
heart rebels, its old desires and old habits 
recur, and we are the more dissatisfied from 
being disappointed in those modes of support 
in which we trusted. 

There was a perpetual struggle in Falkner's 
heart. Hatred of life, pride, a yearning for 
liberty, and a sore, quick spirit of impatience 
for all the bars and forms that stood between 
him and it, swelled like a tide in his soul. He 
hated himself for having brought himself thus 
low ; he was angry that he had exposed Eliza- 
beth to such a scene, he reviled his enemies 
in his heart, he accused destiny. Then again, 
if he but shut his eyes — the stormy river, the 
desolate sands, and the one fair being dead at 
his feet, presented themselves, and remorse, 



FALKNER. 231 

like a wind, drove back the flood. He felt 
that he had deserved it all, that he had him- 
self woven the chain of circumstances which 
he called his fate, while his innocence of the 
crime brought against him imparted a lofty 
spirit of fortitude, and even of repose. 

Elizabeth, with an angel's love, watched the 
changes of his temper. Her sensibility was 
often wounded by his sufferings ; but her be- 
nign disposition was so fertile of compassion 
and forbearance, that her own mood was never 
irritated by finding her attempts to console 
fruitless. She listened meekly when his over- 
laden heart spent itself in invectives against 
the whole system of life ; or catching a favour- 
able moment, she strove to raise his mind to 
nobler and purer thoughts — -unobtrusive, but 
never weary — eagerly gathering all good tid- 
ings, banishing the ill ; her smiles, her tears, 
her cheerfulness or calm sadness, by turns 
relieved and comforted him. 

Winter came upon them. It was wild and 



232 FALKNER. 

drear. Their abode, far in the north of the 
island, was cold beyond their experience, the 
dark prison- walls were whitened by snow, the 
bars of their windows were laden, Falkner 
looked out, the snow drifted against his face, 
one peep at the dusky sky was all that was 
allowed him ; he thought of the wide steppes 
of Russia, the swift sledges, and how he longed 
for freedom ! Elizabeth, as she walked home 
through the frost and sleet, gave a sigh for 
the soft seasons of Greece, and felt that a 
double winter gathered round her steps. 

Day by day, time passed, on. Each evening 
returning to her solitary fireside, she thought, 
" Another is gone, the time draws near ;" she 
shuddered, despite her conviction that the 
trial would be the signal for the liberation of 
Falkner ; she saw the barriers time had placed 
between him and fate, fall off one by one with 
terror ; January and February passed, March 
had come — the first of March, the very month 
when all was to be decided, arrived. Poor 



FALKNER. 233 

tempest-tost voyagers ! would the wished-for 
port be gained — should they ever exchange 
the uncertain element of danger for the firm 
land of security ! 

It was on the first of March that, returning 
home in the evening, she found a letter on 
her table from Neville. Poor Elizabeth! she 
loved with tenderness and passion — and yet 
how few of the fairy thoughts and visions of 
love had been hers — love with her was min- 
gled with so dire a tragedy, such real oppres- 
sive griefs, that its charms seemed crimes 
against her benefactor ; yet now, as she looked 
on the letter, and thought, "from him" the 
rapture of love stole over her, her eyes were 
dimmed by the agitation of delight, and the 
knowledge that she was loved suspended every 
pain, filling her with soft triumph, and thrill- 
mg, though vague expectation. 

She broke the seal — there was an inner 
envelope directed to Miss Raby — and she 
smiled at the mere thought of the pleasure 



234 FALKNER. 

Gerard must have felt in tracing that name — 
the seal, as he regarded it, of their future union ; 
but when she unfolded the sheet, and glanced 
down the page, her attention was riveted by 
other emotions. Thus Neville wrote : — 

" My own sweet Elizabeth, I write in 
haste, but doubt is so painful, and tidings fly 
so quickly, that I hope you will hear first by 
means of these lines, the new blow fate has 
prepared for us. My father lies dangerously 
ill. This, I fear, will again delay the trial — 
occasion prolonged imprisonment — and keep 
you still a martyr to those duties you so cou- 
rageously fulfil. We must have patience. We 
are impotent to turn aside irrevocable decrees, 
yet when we think how much hangs on the 
present moment of time, the heart — my weak 
heart at least — is wrung by anguish. 

" I cannot tell whether Sir Boyvill is aware 
of his situation — he is too much oppressed by 
illness for conversation ; the sole desire he 
testifies is to have me near him. Once or 



FALKNER. 235 

twice he has pressed my hand, and looked on 
me with affection. I never remember to have 
received before, such testimonials of paternal 
love. Such is the force of the natural tie 
between us, that I am deeply moved, and 
would not leave him for the whole world. 
My poor father ! — he has no friend, no relative 
but me; and now, after so much haughtiness 
and disdain, he, in his need, is like a little 
child, reduced to feel his only support in the 
natural affections. His unwonted gentleness 
subdues my soul. Oh, who would rule by 
power, when so much more absolute a ty- 
ranny is established through love ! 

fc ' Sophia is very kind — but she is not his 
child. The hour approaches when we should 
be at Carlisle. What will be the result of our 
absence — what the event of this illness? — I am 
perplexed and agitated beyond measure ; in a 
day or two all will be decided : if Sir Boyvill 
becomes convalescent, still it may be long 
before he can undertake so distant a journey. 



236 FALKNER. 

"Do not fear that for a moment I shall 
neglect your interests, they are my own. For 
months I have lived only on the expectation 
of the hour when you should be liberated from 
the horrors of your present position ; and the 
anticipation of another delay is torture. Even 
your courage must sink, your patience have an 
end. Yet a little longer, my Elizabeth, support 
yourself, let not your noble heart fail at this 
last hour, this last attack of adversity. Be all 
that you have ever been, firm, resigned, and 
generous ; in your excellence I place all my 
trust. I will write again very speedily, and 
if you can imagine any service that I can do 
you, command me to the utmost. I write by 
my father's bedside ; he does not sleep, but he 
is still. Farewell — I love you ; in those words 
is summed a life of weal or woe for me and 
for you also, my Elizabeth ? Do not call me 
selfish for feeling thus — even here." 

" Yes, yes/' thought Elizabeth ; " busy 
fingers are weaving— the web of destiny is 



FALKNER. 237 

unrolling fast — we may not think, nor hope, 
nor scarcely breathe — we must await the hour 
— death is doing his work — what victim will 
he select?" 

The intelligence in this letter, communi- 
cated on the morrow to all concerned in the 
coming trial, filled each with anxiety. In a 
very few days the assizes would commence; 
Falkner's name stood first on the list — delay 
was bitter, yet he must prepare for delay, 
and arm himself anew with resolution. Seve- 
ral anxious days passed — Elizabeth received 
no other letter — she felt that Sir Boyvill's 
danger was protracted, that Gerard was still 
in uncertainty — the post hour now became a 
moment of hope and dread — it was a sort of 
harassing inquietude hard to endure : at length 
a few lines from Lady Cecil arrived — they 
brought no comfort — all remained in the 
same state. 

The assizes began — on the morrow the judges 
were expected in Carlisle— and already all that 
bustle commenced that bore the semblance 



238 FALKNER. 

of gaiety in the rest of the town, but which 
was so mournful and fearful in the gaol. 
There were several capital cases; as Elizabeth 
heard them discussed, her blood ran cold — she 
hated life, and all its adjuncts : to know of 
misery she could not alleviate was always sad- 
dening ; but to feel the squalid mortal misery 
of such a place and hour brought home to her 
own heart, was a wretchedness beyond all ex- 
pression, poignant and hideous. 

The day that the judges arrived, Elizabeth 
presented herself in Falkner's cell — a letter 
in her hand — her first words announced good 
tidings ; yet she was agitated, tearful — some- 
thing strange and awful had surely betided. 
It was a letter from Neville that she held, 
and gave to Falkner to read. 

" I shall soon be in Carlisle, mv dearest 
friend, but this letter will out-speed me, and 
bring you the first intelligence of my poor 
father's death. Thank God, I did my duty by 
him to the last— thank God, he died in peace — 
in peace with me and the whole world. The 



FALKNER. 239 

uneasiness of pain yielded at first to torpor, and 
thus we feared he would die ; but before his 
death he recovered himself for an hour or two, 
and though languid and feeble, his mind was 
clear. How little, dear Elizabeth, do we 
know of our fellow-creatures— each shrouded 
in the cloak of manner — that cloak of various 
dyes — displays little of the naked man within. 
We thought my father vain, selfish, and cruel 
— he was all this, but he was something else 
that we knew not of — he was generous, hu- 
mane, humble — these qualities he hid as if 
they had been vices — he struggled with them 
— pride prevented him from recognizing them 
as the redeeming points of a faulty nature ; he 
despised himself for feeling them, until he was 
on his death-bed. 

" Then, in broken accents, he asked me, 
his only son, to pardon his mistakes and cruel- 
ties — he asked me to forgive him, in my 
dear mother's name — he acknowledged his 
injustices towards her. j Would that I might 
live,' he said ; \ for my awakened conscience 



240 



FALKNER. 



urges me to repair a portion of the evils 1 have 
caused — but it is too late. Strange that I 
should never have given ear to the whisperings 
of justice — though they were often audible — 
till now, when there is no help ! — Yet is it 
so? cannot some reparation be made? There is 
one' — and as he spoke he half raised himself, 
and some of the wonted fire flashed from his 
glazed eye — but he sunk back again, saying in 
a low but distinct voice, ' Falkner — Rupert 
Falkner — he is innocent, I know and feel his 
innocence — yet I have striven to bring him to 
the death. Let me record my belief that his 
tale is true, and that Alithea died the victim 
of her own heroism, not by his hand. Gerard, 
remember, report these words — save him — his 
sufferings have been great — promise me — that 
I may feel that God and Alithea will forgive me, 
as I forgive him ; I act now, as your mother 
would have had me act; I act to please 
her.' 

" I speak it without shame, my eyes ran 
over with tears, and this softening of a proud 



FALKNER. 241 

heart before the remembered excellence of one 
so long dead, so long thought of with harsh- 
ness and resentment, was the very triumph 
of the good spirit of the world ; yet tears were 
all the thanks I could give for several minutes. 
He saw that I was moved — but his strength 
was fast leaving him, and pressing my hand 
and murmuring, * My last duty is now per- 
formed — I will sleep,' he turned away his 
head ; he never spoke more, except to articu- 
late my name, and once or twice, as his lips 
moved, and I bent down to listen, I heard the 
name of my mother breathed at the latest 
hour. 

' c I cannot write more — the trial will take 
place, I am told, immediately — before the 
funeral. I shall be in Carlisle — all will go 
well, dear Elizabeth — and when we meet 
again, happier feelings will be ours. God 
bless you now and always, as you deserve." 



VOL. III. M 



242 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER XVI. 



All things now assumed an anxious aspect; 
all was hurrying to a conclusion. To-morrow 
the trial was to come on. "Security" is not a 
word for mortal man to use, more especially 
when the issue of an event depends on the 
opinions and actions of his fellow-creatures. 
Falkner's acquittal was probable, but not 
certain ; even if the impression went in 
general in his favour, a single juryman 
might hold out, and perverseness, added to 
obstinacy, would turn the scale against him. 
Sickening fears crept over Elizabeth's heart; 



FALKNER. 243 

she endeavoured to conceal them ; she en- 
deavoured to smile and repeat, "This is our 
last day of bondage." 

Falkner cast no thought upon the worst — 
innocence shut out fear. He could not look 
forward to the ignominy of such a trial with- 
out acute suffering ; yet there was an austere 
composure in his countenance, that spoke of 
fortitude and reliance on a power beyond the 
limit of human influence. His turn had come 
to encourage Elizabeth. There was a noble- 
ness and simplicity of character, common to 
both, that made them very intelligible to each 
other. Falkner, however, had long been 
nourishing secret thoughts and plans, of which 
he had made no mention, till now, the crisis 
impending, he thought it best to lift a portion 
of the veil that covered the future. 

" Yes," he said, in reply to Elizabeth, " to- 
morrow will be the last day of slavery ; I regain 
my human privileges after to-morrow, and I 
shall not be slow to avail myself of them. My 

m 2 



244 FALKNER. 

first act will be to quit this country. I have 
never trod its soil but to find misery ; after 
to-morrow I leave it for ever." 

Elizabeth started, and looked inquiringly : 
Were her wishes, her destiny to have no 
influence over his plans? he knew of the hope, 
the affection, that rendered England dear to 
her. Falkner took her hand. "You will join 
me hereafter, dearest; but you will, in the first 
instance, yield to my request, and consent to 
a separation for a time." 

"Never!" said Elizabeth; "you cannot 
deceive me ; you act thus for my purposes, 
and not your own, and you misconceive every- 
thing. We will never part." 

" Daughters, when they marry," observed 
Falkner, " leave father, mother, all, and 
follow the fortunes of their husbands. You 
must submit to the common law of human 
society." 

" Do not ask me to reason with you and 
refute your arguments," replied Elizabeth ; 



FALKNER. 245 

* 

" our position is different from that of any 
other parent and child. I will not say I owe 
you more than daughter ever owed father — 
perhaps the sacred tie of blood may stand in 
place of the obligations you have heaped on 
me ; but I will not reason ; I cannot leave 
you. Right or wrong in the eyes of others, 
my own heart would perpetually reproach me. 
I should image your solitary wanderings, your 
lonely hours of sickness and suffering, and 
my peace of mind would be destroyed." 

"It is true," said Falkner, " that I am 
more friendless than most men ; yet I am not 
so weak and womanish that I need perpetual 
support. Your society is dear to me, dearer, 
God, who reads my heart, knows, than liberty 
or life ; I shall return to that society, and 
again enjoy it ; but, for a time, do not fear but 
that I can form such transitory ties as will 
prevent solitary suffering. Men and women 
abound who will feel benevolently towards 
the lonely stranger : money purchases respect ; 



246 FALKNER. 

blameless manners win kindness. I shall find 
friends in my need if I desire it, and I shall 
return at last to you." 

" My dearest father," said Elizabeth, "you 
cannot deceive me. I penetrate your motives, 
but you wholly mistake. You would force 
me also to mistake your character, but I 
know you too well. You never form transi- 
tory friendships ; you take no pleasure in the 
ordinary run of human intercourse. You 
inquire ; you seek for instruction ; you en- 
deavour to confer benefits ; but you have no 
happiness except such as you derive from your 
heart, and that is not easily impressed. Did 
you not for many long years continue faithful 
to one idea — adhere to one image — devote 
yourself to one, one only, despite all that 
separated you ? Did not the impediment you 
found to the fulfilment of your visions, blight 
your whole life, and bring you here? Pardon 
me if I allude to these things. I cannot be 
to you what she was, but you can no more 



FALKNER. 247 

banish me from your heart and imagination 
than you could her. I know that you cannot. 
We are not parent and child," she continued 
playfully, "but we have a strong resemblance 
on one point — fidelity is our characteristic ; 
we will not speak of this to others, they might 
think that we boasted. I am not quite sure 
that it is not a defect : at least in some cases, 
as with you, it proved a misfortune. To me 
it can never be such ; it repays itself. I 
cannot leave you, whatever befalls. If Gerard 
Neville is hereafter lost to me, I cannot help 
it ; it would kill me to fall off from you. I 
must follow the natural, the irresistible bent of 
my character. 

" To-morrow, the day after to-morrow, we 
will speak more of this. What is necessary 
for your happiness, be assured, I will fulfil 
without repining ; but now, dearest father, 
let us not speak of the future now ; my heart 
is too full of the present — the future appears to 



248 FALKNER. 

me a dream never to be arrived at. Oh, how 
more than blest I shall be when the future, 
the long future, shall grow into interest and 
importance ! " 

They were interrupted. One person came in, 
and then another, and the appalling details of 
the morrow effectually banished all thoughts 
of plans, the necessity of which Falkner 
wished to impress on his young companion. 
He also was obliged to give himself up to 
present cares. He received all, he talked to 
all, with a serious but unembarrassed air; 
while Elizabeth sat shuddering by, wiping 
away her tears unseen, and turning her dimmed 
eyes from one to the other, pale and miserable. 
We have fortitude and resignation for our- 
selves ; but when those beloved are in peril 
we can only weep and pray. Sheltered in 
a dusky corner, a little retreated behind 
Falkner, she watched, she listened to all, and 
her heart almost broke. " Leave him ! after 



FALKNER. 249 

this leave him!" she thought, " a prey to such 
memories ? Oh, may all good angels desert 
me when I become so vile a wretch \" 

The hour came when they must part. She 
was not to see him on the morrow, until the 
trial was over ; for her presence during the 
preliminary scenes, was neither fitting nor 
practicable. Already great indulgences had 
been granted to the prisoner, arising from his 
peculiar position, the great length of time 
since the supposed crime had been committed, 
and the impression, now become general, that 
he was innocent. But this had limits — the 
morrow was to decide all, and send him forth 
free and guiltless, or doom him to all the 
horrors of condemnation and final suffering. 

Their parting was solemn. Neither indulged 
in grief. Falkner felt composed — Elizabeth 
endeavoured to assume tranquillity ; but her 
lips quivered, and she could not speak; it was 
like separating not to meet for years ; a few 
short hours, and she would look again upon 

M 3 



250 FALKNER. 

his face — but how much would happen in 
the interval ! — how mighty a change have 
occurred ! What agony would both have gone 
through ! the one picturing, the other endur- 
ing, the scene of the morrow ; the gaze of 
thousands — the accusation — the evidence — the 
defence — the verdict — each of these bearing 
with it to the well-born and refined, a 
barbed dart, pregnant with thrilling poison ; 
ignominy added to danger. How Elizabeth 
longed to express to the assembled world the 
honour in which she held him, whom all 
looked on as overwhelmed with disgrace; how 
she yearned to declare the glory she took in 
the ties that bound them, and the affection 
that she bore ! She must be mute — but she 
felt all this to bursting ; and her last words, 
" Best of men ! excellent, upright, noble, 
generous, God will preserve you and restore 
you to me!" expressed in some degree the 
swelling emotions of her soul. 

They parted. Night and silence gathered 



FALKNER. 251 

round Falkner's pillow. With stoical firm- 
ness he banished retrospect — he banished care. 
He laid his hopes and fears at the feet of that 
Almighty Power, who holds earth and all it 
contains in the hollow of his hand, and he 
would trouble himself no more concerning 
the inevitable though unknown decree. His 
thoughts were at first solemn and calm ; and 
then, as the human mind can never, even in 
torture, fix itself unalterably on one point, 
milder and more pleasing reveries presented 
themselves. He thought of himself as a wild 
yet not worthless schoolboy — he remembered 
the cottage porch clustered over with odo- 
riferous parasites, under whose shadow sat the 
sick, pale lady, with her starry eyes and wise 
lessons, and her radiant daughter, whose soft 
hand he held as they both nestled close at her 
feet. He recalled his wanderings with that 
daughter over hill and dale, when their steps 
were light, and their hearts, unburthened 
with a care, soared to that heaven which her 



252 FALKNER. 

blessed spirit had already reached. Oh, what 
is life, that these dreams of youth and inno- 
cence should have conducted her to an un- 
timely grave — him to a felon's cell ! The 
thought came with a sharp pang; again he 
banished it, and the land of Greece, his perils, 
and his wanderings with Elizabeth on the 
shores of Zante, now replaced his other 
memories. He then bore a burthen on his 
heart, which veiled with dark crape the glories 
of a sunny climate, the heart-cheering tender- 
ness of his adopted child — this was less bitter, 
this meeting of fate, this atonement. Sleep 
crept over him at last, and such is the force 
of innocence, that though a cloud of agony 
hung over his awakening, yet he slept peace- 
fully on the eve of his trial. 

Towards morning his sleep became less 
tranquil. He moved — he groaned — then 
opening his eyes he started up, struggling to 
attain full consciousness of where he was, 
and wherefore. He had been dreaming — and 



FALKNER. 253 

he asked himself what had been the subject 
of his dreams. Was it Greece — or the dreary 
waste shores of Cumberland? And why did 
that fair lingering shape beckon him? Was 
it Alithea or Elizabeth? Before these con- 
fused doubts could be solved, he recognized 
the walls of the cell — and saw the shadow of 
the bars of his windows on the curtain spread 
before it. It was morning — the morning — 
where would another sUn find him? 

He rose and drew aside the curtain — and 
there were the dark, high walls — weather- 
stained and huge ; — clear, but sunless day- 
light was spread over each object — it pene- 
trated every nook, and yet was devoid of 
cheer. There is indeed something inexpres- 
sibly desolate in the sight of the early, grey, 
chill dawn dissipating the shadows of night, 
when the day which it harbingers is to bring 
misery. Night is a cloak — a shelter — a de- 
fence — all men sleep at night — the law sleeps, 
and its dread ministrants are harmless in their 



254 FALKNER. 

beds, hushed like cradled children. "Even 
now they sleep," thought Falkner, " pillowed 
and curtained in luxury — but day is come, 
and they will soon resume their offices — and 
drag me before them — and wherefore? — be- 
cause it is day — because it is Wednesday — 
because names have been given to portions of 
time, which otherwise might be passed over 
and forgotten." 

To the surgeon's eye, a human body some- 
times presents itself merely as a mass of 
bones, muscles, and arteries — though that 
human body may contain a soul to emulate 
Shakespear — and thus there are moments 
when the wretched dissect the forms of life — 
and contemplating only the outward sem- 
blance of events, wonder how so much power 
of misery, or the reverse, resides in what is 
after all but sleeping or waking — walking 
here or walking there — seeing one fellow- 
creature instead of another. Such were the 
morbid sensations that absorbed Falkner as 



FALKNER. 255 

day grew clearer and clearer — the narrow 
court more gloomy as compared with the sky, 
and the objects in his cell assumed their 
natural colour and appearances. "All sleep," 
he again thought, " except I, the sufferer; and 
does my own Elizabeth sleep ? Heaven grant 
it, and guard her slumbers ! May those dear 
eyes long remain closed in peace upon this 
miserable day !" 

He dressed himself long before any one in 
the prison (and gaolers are early risers) was 
awake ; at last there were steps in the passage 
— bolts were drawn and voices heard. These 
familiar sounds recalled him to actual life, 
and approaching, inevitable events. His 
haughty soul awoke again — a dogged pride 
steeled his heart — he remembered the accusa- 
tion — the execration in which he believed him- 
self to beheld — and his innocence. " Retribu- 
tion or atonement — I am ready to pay it as it 
is demanded of me for Alithea's sake — but the 
injustice of man is not lessened on this account ; 



256 FALKNER. 

henceforth I am to be stamped with ignominy 
— and yet in what am I worse than my fellows ? 
— at least they shall not see that my spirit 
bends before them." 

He assumed cheerfulness, and bore all the 
preliminaries of preparation with apparent 
carelessness ; sometimes his eagle eye flashed 
fire — sometimes, fixed on vacancy, a whole 
life of memories passed across his mental 
vision; but there was no haste, no trepidation, 
no faltering — he never thought of danger 
or of death — innocence sustained him. The 
ignominy of the present was all that he felt 
that he had to endure and master — that, and 
the desolation beyond, when branded through 
life as he believed he should be, even by 
acquittal, he was henceforth to be looked on 
as an outcast. 

At length he was led forth to his trial — 
pride in his heart — resolution in his eye ; he 
passed out of the gloomy portal of the prison, 
and entered the sun-lit street — houses were 



FALKNER. 257 

around ; but through an opening he caught 
a glimpse of the country — uplands and lawny 
fields, and tree-crested hills — the work of 
God himself. Sunshine rested on the scene — 
one used to liberty had regarded with con- 
tempt the restricted view presented by the 
opening ; but to the prisoner, who for months 
had only seen his prison-walls, it seemed as if 
the creation lay unrolled in its majesty before 
him. What was man in comparison with the 
power that upheld the earth, and bade the sun to 
shine? And man was to judge him? What 
mockery ! Man and all his works were but a 
plaything in the hands of Omnipotence, and to 
that Falkner submitted his destiny. He rose 
above the degrading circumstances around 
him ; he looked down upon his fate — a real, 
a lofty calm at last possessed his soul ; he felt 
that nought said or done that day by his fellow- 
creatures could move him ; his reliance was 
elsewhere — it rested on his own innocence, 



258 FALKNER. 

and his intimate sense that he was in no more 
danger now, than if sheltered in the farthest, 
darkest retreat, unknown to man ; he walked 
as if surrounded by an atmosphere which no 
storms from without could penetrate. 

He entered the court with a serene brow, 
and so much dignity added to a look that 
expressed such entire peace of conscience, that 
every one who beheld him became prepossessed 
in his favour. His distinct, calm voice de- 
claring himself" Not Guilty;" the confidence, 
untinged by vaunting, with which he uttered 
the customary appeal to God and his Country, 
excited admiration at first, and then, when a 
second sentiment could be felt, the most 
heart-moving pity. Such a man, so unstained 
by vice, so raised above crime, had never 
stood there before ; accustomed to the sight 
of vulgar rogues or hardened ruffians, won- 
der was mingled with a certain self-exami- 
nation, which made each man feel that, if 



FALKNER. 



259 



justice were done, he probably deserved more 
to be in that dock than the prisoner. 

And then they remembered that he stood 
there to be consigned to life or death, as the 
jury should decide. A breathless interest was 
awakened, not only in the spectators, but even 
in those hardened by habit to scenes like this. 
Every customary act of the court was accom- 
panied by a solemnity unfelt before. The 
feeling, indeed, that reigned was something 
more than solemn ; thirsting curiosity and 
eager wonder gave way before thrilling awe, 
to think that that man might be condemned 
to an ignominious end. 

When once the trial had begun, and his 
preliminary part had been played, Falkner sat 
down . He became, to all appearance, abstracted . 
He was, indeed, thinking of things more pain- 
ful than even the present scene ; the screams 
and struggles of the agonized Alithea — her last 
sad sleep in the hut upon the shore — the 
strangling, turbid waves — her wet, lifeless form 



260 FALKNER. 

— her low, unnamed grave dug by him : had 
these been atoned for by long years of remorse 
and misery, or was the present ignominy, and 
worse that might ensue, fitting punishment? 
Be it as it might, he was equal to the severest 
blows, and ready to lay down a life in com- 
pensation for that of 'which he, most uninten- 
tionally, and yet most cruelly, had deprived 
her. His thoughts were not recalled to the 
present scene, till a voice struck his ear, so 
like hers — did the dead speak? Knit up as 
he was to the endurance of all, he trembled 
from head to foot ; he had been so far away 
from that place, till the echo, as it were, of 
Alithea's voice, recalled him ; in a moment 
he recovered himself, and found that it was 
her child, Gerard Neville, who was giving his 
evidence. 

He heard the son of his victim speak of 
him as innocent, and a thrill of thankfulness 
entered his soul ; he smiled, and hope and 
sympathy with his fellow-creatures, and 



FALKNER. 261 

natural softening feelings, replaced the gloomy 
bitterness and harshness of his past reflections. 
He felt that he should be acquitted, and that 
it became him to impress all present favour- 
ably,* it became him to conduct himself so 
as to show his confidence in the justice of 
those on whom his fate depended, and at once 
to assert the dignity of innocence. From that 
time he gave himself entirely up to the details 
of the trial ; he became attentive, and not the 
less calm and resolute, because he believed 
that his own exertions would crown the hour 
with success. The spectators saw the change 
in him, and were roused to double interest. 
The court clock, meanwhile, kept measure of 
the time that passed; the hands travelled 
silently on — another turn, and all would be 
over; — and what would then be? 



262 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER XVII. 



Elizabeth meanwhile might envy the reso- 
lution that bore him through these appalling 
scenes. On the night after leaving him, she 
had not even attempted to rest. Wrapped in a 
shawl, she threw herself on a sofa, and told 
each hour, during the livelong night ; her re- 
veries were wild, vague, and exquisitely painful. 
In the morning she tried to recall her faculties 
— she remembered her conviction that on that 
day Falkner would be liberated, and she dressed 
herself with care, that she might welcome him 
with the appearances of rejoicing. She ex- 



FALKNER. 263 

pected, with unconquerable trepidation, the 
hour when the court would meet. Before 
that hour, there was a knock at her door, and 
a visiter was announced ; it was Mrs. Raby. 

It was indeed a solace to see a friendly face 
of her own sex — she had been so long deprived 
of this natural support. Lady Cecil had now 
and then written to her — her letters were 
always affectionate, but she seemed stunned 
by the magnitude of the blow that had 
fallen on her friend, and unable to proffer 
consolation. With kindness of heart, sweet- 
ness of temper, and much good sense, still 
Lady Cecil was common-place and worldly. 
Mrs. Raby was of a higher order of being. 
She saw things too exclusively through one 
medium — and thus the scope of her exertions 
was narrowed ; but that medium was a pure and 
elevated one. In visiting Elizabeth, on this 
occasion, she soared beyond it. 

Long and heavily had her desertion of the 
generous girl weighed on her conscience. She 



264 FALKNER. 

could sympathize in her heroism, and warmly 
approve — it was in her nature to praise and 
to reward merit, and she had withheld all 
tribute from her abandoned niece. The in- 
terests of her religion, blended with those of 
family, actuated her, and while resisting a 
natural impulse of generosity she fancied that 
she was doing right. She had spoken con- 
cerning her with no one but Lady Cecil ; and 
she, while she praised her young friend, forgot 
to speak of Falkner, and there lay the stum- 
bling-block to every motion in her favour. 

When Elizabeth repaired to Carlisle, Mrs. 
Raby returned to Belleforest. She scarcely 
knew how to introduce the subject to her 
father-in-law, and when she did, he, verging 
into dotage, only said ; " Act as you please, 
my dear, I rely on you ; act for the honour 
and welfare of yourself and your children." 
The old man day by day lost his powers of 
memory and reason ; by the time of the trial 
he had become a 'mere cipher. Every respon- 



FALKNER. 265 

sibility fell on Mrs. Raby ; and she, eager 
to do right and fearful to do wrong, struggled 
with her better nature — wavered, repented, 
and yet remained inactive. 

Neville strongly reprobated the conduct of 
every one towards Elizabeth. He had never 
seen Mrs. Raby, but she in particular he re- 
garded with the strongest disapprobation. It 
so happened, that the very day after his fa- 
ther's death, he was at Lady Cecil's when 
Mrs. Raby called, and by an exception in the 
general orders— made for Elizabeth's sake, 
— she was let come up. Gerard was alone in 
the drawing-room when she was announced — 
he rose hastily, meaning to withdraw, when 
the lady's appearance changed his entire mind. 
We ridicule the minutia of the science of phy- 
siognomy — but who is not open to first im- 
pressions? Neville was prepossessed favour- 
ably by Mrs. Raby's countenance ; her open 
thoughtful brow, her large dark melancholy 
eyes, her dignity of manner joined to evi- 

VOL. III. N 



266 FALKNER. 

dent marks of strong feeling, at once showed 
him that he saw a woman capable of generous 
sentiments and heroic sacrifice. He felt that 
there must have been some grievous error in 
Sophia's proceedings not to have awakened 
more active interest in her mind. While he 
was forming these conclusions, Mrs. Raby 
was struck by him in an equally favourable 
manner. No one could see Gerard Neville 
without feeling that something angelic — some- 
thing nobly disinterested — unearthly in its 
purity, yet, beyond the usual nature of man, 
sympathetic, animated a countenance that 
was all sensibility, genius, and love. In a 
minute they were intimate friends. Lady 
Cecil hearing that they were together, would 
not interrupt them ; and their conversation 
was long. Neville related his first acquaint- 
ance with Elizabeth Raby — he sketched the 
history of Falkner — he described him — and 
the scene when he denounced himself as the 
destroyer of Alithea. He declared his convic- 



FALKNER. 267 

tion of his innocence — he narrated Sir Boy- 
vill's dying words. Then they both dwelt on 
his long imprisonment, Elizabeth's faithful 
affection, and all that they must have under- 
gone — enough to move the stoniest heart. 
Tears rushed into Gerard's eyes while he 
spoke — while he described her innocence, 
her integrity, her total forgetfulness of self. 
" And I have deserted her," exclaimed Mrs. 
Raby ; "we have all deserted her — this must 
not continue. You go to Carlisle to-morrow 
for the trial; the moment it is over, and Mr. 
Falkner acquitted — when they have left that 
town, where all is so full of their name and 
story — I will see her, and try to make up for 
my past neglect.'' 

" It will be too late," said Gerard ; " you 
may then please yourself by admiring one so 
superior to every human being ; but you will 
not benefit her — Falkner acquitted, she will 
have risen above all need of your support. 
Now is the hour to be of use* The very hour 

n2 



268 FALKNER. 

of the trial, when this unfortunate, heroic girl 
is thrown entirely on herself — wounded by 
her absolute friendlessness, yet disdaining to 
complain. I could almost wish that Sophia 
would disregard appearances, and hasten to her 
side ; although her connexion with our family 
would render that too strange. But you, 
Mrs. Raby, what should stop you? she is 
your niece — how vain to attempt to conceal 
this from the world — it must be known — 
through me, I fondly trust, it will be known 
— who shall claim her as Miss Raby — when as 
Elizabeth Falkner, I could never see her more. 
And when it is known, will not your desertion 
be censured ? Be wise, be generous — win that 
noblest and gentlest heart by your kindness 
now, and the very act will be your reward. 
Hasten to Carlisle; be with her in the saddest 
hour that ever one so young and innocent 
passed through." 

Mrs. Raby was moved, she was persuaded, 
she felt a veil fall from before her eves, she 



FALKNER. 269 

saw her duty, and she keenly felt the little- 
ness of her past desertion ; she did not hesi- 
tate; and now that she perceived how gladly her 
niece welcomed her in this hour of affliction, 
and how gratefully she appreciated her kind- 
ness, she found in the approval of her own 
heart the sweetest recompense for her disin- 
terestedness. 

Elizabeth's swollen eyes, and timid, hurried 
manner, betrayed how she had passed the night, 
and how she was possessed by the most agi- 
tating fears. Still she spoke of the acquittal 
of her father, as she took pride in calling him 
at this crisis, as certain ; and Mrs. Raby 
taking advantage of this, endeavoured to draw 
her mind from the torture of representing to 
herself the progress of the scene then acting 
at so short a distance from them, by speaking 
of the future. Elizabeth mentioned Falkner's 
determination to quit England, and her own to 
accompany him ; the hinted dissuasion of Mrs. 
Raby she disregarded. " He has been a father 



270 FALKNER. 

to me — I am his child. What would you say to 
a daughter who deserted her father in adver- 
sity and sickness? And, dear Mrs. Raby, you 
must remember that my father is, in spite of 
all his courage, struck by disease ; accustomed 
to my attentions, he would die if left to hire- 
lings. Deserted by me, he would sink into 
apathy or despair." 

Mrs. Raby listened — she admired the en- 
thusiasm and yet the softness, the sensibility 
and firmness, of her young kinswoman ; but 
she was pained ; many ideas assailed her, but 
she would not entertain them, they were too 
wild and dangerous ; and yet her heart, formed 
for generosity, was tempted to trample upon 
the suggestions of prudence and the qualms 
of bigotry. To give diversion to her thoughts 
she mentioned Gerard Neville. A blush of 
pleasure, a smile shown more in the eyes than 
on the lips, mantled over her niece's counte- 
nance. She spoke of him as of a being scarcely 
earthly in his excellence. His devotion to 



FALKNER. 271 

his mother first, and lately his generosity 
towards her, his resolution to go to America, 
to seek Osborne, for her sake and the sake of 
justice, were themes for eloquence; she spoke 
with warmth and truth — " Yet if you follow 
Mr. Falkner's fortunes," said Mrs. Raby, 
" you will see him no more." 

" I cannot believe that," replied Elizabeth ; 
" yet, if it must be so, I am resigned. He will 
never forget me, and I shall feel that I am 
worthy of him, though separated: — better that, 
than to remain at the sacrifice of all I hold 
honourable and good ; he would despise me, 
and that were worse absence, an absence of 
the heart ten thousand times more galling 
than mere distance of place — one would be 
eternal and irremediable, the other easily 
obviated when our duties should no longer 
clash. I go with my father because he is suf- 
fering ; Neville may join us because he is inno- 
cent — he will not, I feel and know, either 
forget me, or stay away for ever." 



272 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 



While they were conversing, quick foot- 
steps were heard in the street below. Mrs. 
Raby had succeeded in making the time pass 
more lightly than could be hoped ; it was 
three o'clock — there was a knock at the door 
of the house. Elizabeth, breaking off abruptly, 
turned ashy pale, and clasped her hands in 
the agony of expectation. Osborne rushed 
into the room. " It is all over !" he exclaimed, 
"all is well!" Tears streamed from his eyes 
as he spoke and ran up to shake hands with 
Elizabeth, and congratulate her,with an ardour 



FALKNER. 273 

and joy that contrasted strangely with the 
frightened-looking being he had always before 
shown himself. 

" Mr. Falkner is acquitted — he is free — he 
will soon be here ! No one could doubt his 
innocence that saw him — no one did doubt it 
— the jury did not even retire." Thus Os- 
borne ran on, relating the events of the trial. 
Falkner's mere appearance had prepossessed 
every one. The frankness of his open brow, 
his dignified, unembarrassed manner, his voice, 
whose clear tones were the very echo of truth, 
vouched for him. The barrister who conducted 
the prosecution, narrated the facts rather as 
a mystery to be inquired into, than as a crime 
to be detected. Gerard Neville's testimony 
was entirely favourable to the prisoner : he 
showed how Falkner, wholly unsuspected, 
safe from the shadow of accusation, had spon- 
taneously related the unhappy part he took in 
his unfortunate mother s death, for the sake 
of restoring her reputation, and relieving the 

n3 



274 FALKNER. 

minds of her relatives. The narrative written 
in Greece, and left as explanation in case of his 
death, was further proof of the truth of his 
account. Gerard declared himself satisfied of 
his innocence; and when he stated his father's 
dying words, his desire at the last hour on the 
bed of death, to record his belief in Falkner's 
being guiltless of the charge brought against 
him — words spoken as it were yesterday, for 
he who uttered them still lay unburied — the 
surprise seemed to be that he should have 
suffered a long imprisonment, and the degra- 
dation of a trial. Osborne's own evidence 
was clear and satisfactory. At last Falkner 
himself was asked what defence he had to 
make. As he rose every eye turned on him, 
every voice and breath were hushed — a solemn 
silence reigned. His words were few, spoken 
calmly and impressively ; he rested his inno- 
cence on the very evidence brought against 
him. He had been the cause of the lady's 
death, and asked for no mercy ; but for her 



FALKNER. 275 

sake, and the sake of that heroic feeling that 
led her to encounter death amidst the waves, 
he asked for justice, and he did not for a 
moment doubt that it would be rendered him. 

" Nor could you doubt it as you heard him,' 
continued Osborne. " Never were truth and 
innocence written so clearly on human coun- 
tenance as on his, as he looked upon the jury 
with his eagle eyes, addressing them without 
pride, but with infinite majesty, as if he could 
rule their souls through the power of a clear 
conscience and a just cause; they did not 
hesitate — the jury did not hesitate a moment ; 
I rushed here the moment T heard the words. 
and now — he is come." 

Many steps were again heard in the street 
below, and one, which Elizabeth could not 
mistake, upon the stairs. Falkner entered — 
she flew to his arms, and he pressed her to his 
bosom, wrapping her in a fond, long embrace, 
while neither uttered a word. 

A few moments of trembling almost to 



276 FALKNER. 

agony, a few agitated tears, and the natural 
gladness of the hour assumed its genuine 
aspect. Falkner, commanding himself, could 
shake hands with Osborne, and thank him, 
and Elizabeth presented him to Mrs. Raby. 
He at once comprehended the kindness of her 
visit, and acknowledged it with a heart- felt 
thankfulness, that showed how much he had 
suffered while picturing Elizabeth's abandon- 
ment. Soon various other persons poured into 
the room, and it was necessary to pass through 
many congratulations, and to thank, and, what 
was really painful, to listen to the out-pouring 
talk of those persons who had been present at 
the trial. Yet at such a moment, the heart, 
warmed and open, acknowledges few distinc- 
tions ; among those whose evident joy in the 
result filled Elizabeth with gratitude, she and 
Falkner felt touched by none so much as the 
visit of a turnkey, who was ashamed to show 
himself, yet who, hearing they were immediately 
to quit Carlisle, begged permission to see them 



FALKNER. 277 

once again. The poor fellow, who looked on 
Elizabeth as an angel, and Falkner as a demi- 
god, for, not forgetting others in their adver- 
sity, they had discovered and assisted his 
necessities ; the poor fellow seemed out of his 
mind with joy — ecstasy was painted on his 
face — there was no mistaking the clear lan- 
guage of a full and grateful heart. 

At length the hurry and tumult subsided — 
all departed. Falkner and his beloved com- 
panion were left alone, and for a few short 
hours enjoyed a satisfaction so perfect that 
angels might have envied them. Falkner was 
humbled, it is true, and looked to the past 
with the same remorse ; but in vain did he 
think that his pride ought to feel deeply 
wounded by the scene of that day ; in vain 
did he tell himself that after such a trial the 
purity of his honour was tarnished — his heart 
told another tale. Its emphatic emotions 
banished every conventional or sophisticated 
regret. He was honestly though calmly glad, 



278 FALKNER. 

and acknowledged the homely feeling, with the 
sincerity of a man who had never been nourished 
in false refinements or factitious woes. 

In the evening, when it was dusk, said Falk- 
ner, " Let us, love, take a walk;" the words 
made Elizabeth both laugh and cry for joy — 
he put on his hat, and with her on his arm they 
got quickly out of the town, and strolled down 
a neighbouring lane. The wind that waved 
the heads of the still leafless trees, the aspect 
of the starry sky, the wide spread fields were 
felt as blessings from heaven by the liberated 
prisoner. " They all seem," he said, " created 
purely for my enjoyment. How sweet is na- 
ture — how divine a thing is liberty ! Oh my 
God ! I dare not be so happy as I would, there 
is one thought to chill the genial glow; but for 
the image of lost, dead Alithea, I should enjoy 
a felicity too pure for frail humanity." 

As they returned into the town, a carriage 
with four posters passed them ; Elizabeth re- 
cognized at once Gerard Neville within — a 



FALKNER. 



279 



pang shot through her heart, to remember 
that they did not share their feelings, but 
were separated, perhaps for ever — at this very 
hour. On her return, worn out with fatigue, 
and oppressed with this reflection, she bade 
good night to Falkner ; and he, happy in the 
idea that the same roof would cover them, 
kissed and embraced her. On entering her 
room, she found a letter on her toilette — and 
smiles again dimpled her face — it was a letter 
from Neville. It contained a few words, a very 
few of congratulation, reminding her that he 
must hurry back to town for the melancholy 
task of his father's funeral ; and imploring that 
neither she nor Falkner would determine on 
any immediate step. " I cannot penetrate 
the cloud in which we are enveloped," he said, 
" but I know that I ought not, that I cannot, 
lose you. A little time, a little reflection may 
show us how to accord our various duties with 
the great necessity of our not being separated. 
Be not rash therefore, my own Elizabeth, nor 



280 FALKNER. 

let your friend be rash ; surely the worst is 
over, and we may be permitted at last to hate 
no more, and to be happy." 

Elizabeth kissed the letter, and placed it 
beneath her pillow. That night she slept 
sweetly and well. 

Early in the morning Mrs. Raby called on 
them. The same prepossession which Gerard 
had felt in her favour as soon as he saw her, had 
taken place in her on seeing Falkner. There 
is a sort of magnetism that draws like to like, 
and causes minds of fine and lofty tone to re- 
cognize each other when brought in contact. 
Mrs. Raby saw and acknowledged at once 
Falkner's superiority ; whatever his faults had 
been, they were winnow T ed away by adversity, 
and he was become at once the noblest and 
gentlest of human beings. Mrs. Raby had 
that touch of generosity in her own character 
that never permitted her to see merit without 
openly acknowledging, and endeavouring to 
reward it. The first thought of the plan she 



FALKNER. 281 

now entertained, she had cast away as imprac- 
ticable, but it returned ; the desire to give 
and to benefit, a natural growth in her heart, 
made her look on it with complacency — by 
degrees she dismissed the objections that pre- 
sented themselves, and resolved to act upon it. 
" We complain," she thought, " of the bar- 
renness of life, and the tediousness and faults 
of our fellow-creatures, and when Providence 
brings before us two selected from the world 
as endowed with every admirable quality, we 
allow a thousand unworthy considerations, 
which assume the voice of prudence, to exile us 
from them. Where can I find a man like 
Falkner, full of honour, sensibility, and talent? 
where a girl like Elizabeth, who has proved 
herself to be the very type of virtuous fidelity ? 
Such companions will teach my children better 
than volumes of moral treatises, the existence 
and loveliness of human goodness." 

Mrs. Raby passed a sleepless night, revolv- 
ing these thoughts. In the morning she 



282 FALKNER. 

called on her new friends ; and then with all 
the grace that was her peculiar charm, she 
invited them to accompany her to Belleforest, 
and to take up their residence there for the 
next few months. 

Elizabeth's eyes sparkled with delight. 
Falkner at once accepted the invitation for 
her, and declined it for himself. ''You hear 
him, my dear aunt," cried Elizabeth ; " but 
you will not accept his refusal — you will not 
permit this perversity." 

if You forget many things when you speak 
thus," said Falkner ; " but Mrs. Raby remem- 
bers them all. I thank her for her kindness ; 
but I am sure she will admit of the pro- 
priety of my declining her invitation." 

" You imagine then," replied Mrs. Raby, 
" that I made it for form's sake — intending 
it should be refused. You mistake. I know 
what you mean, and all you would covertly 
suggest — let us cast aside the ceremonies 
of mere acquaintanceship — let us be friends. 



FALKNER. 283 

and speak with the openness natural to us — 
do you consent to this ?" 

"You are good, very good," said Falkner; 
" except this dear girl, who will deign to be 
my friend ?" 

" If I thought," replied Mrs. Raby, " that 
your heart was so narrowed by the disasters 
and injustice you have suffered, that you must 
hereafter shut yourself up with the remem- 
brance of them, I should feel inclined to retract 
my offer — for friendship is a mutual feeling; 
and he who feels only for himself can be no one's 
friend. But this is not the case with you. You 
have a heart true to every touch of sympathy, 
as Elizabeth can testify — since you determined 
to live for her sake, when driven to die by the 
agony of your sufferings. Let us then at once 
dismiss notions which I must consider as un- 
worthy of us. When we turn to the page of 
history, and read of men visited by adversity 
— what do we say to those of their fellow- 
creatures who fall off from them on account 



284 FALKNER. 

of their misfortunes? Do we not call them 
little-minded, and visit them with our con- 
tempt? Do not class me with such. I might 
pass you carelessly by if you had always been 
prosperous. It is your misfortunes that in- 
spire me with friendship — that render me 
eauer to cultivate an intimacy with one who 
lias ri.-en above the most frightful calamity 
that could befall a man, and shown himself 
at once repentant and courageous. 

" You will understand what I mean, without 
long explanation — we shall have time for that 
hereafter. I honour you. What my heart 
feels, my voice and action^ will ever be ready 
to proclaim. For Elizabeth's sake you must 
not permit the world to think that he who 
adopted and brought her up is unworthy of 
regard and esteem. Come with us to Belle- 
forest — you must not refuse ; I long to intro- 
duce my girls to their matchless cousin — I 
long to win her heart by my affection, and 
kindness ; and if you will permit me the 



FALKNER. 285 

enviable task, how proud and glad I shall be 
to repay a portion of what we owe you on her 
account, by endeavouring to compensate, by 
a few months of tranquillity and friendship, 
for the misery you have undergone." 

Mrs. Raby spoke with sincerity and ear- 
nestness, and Elizabeth's eyes pleaded her 
cause yet more eloquently. " Where you 
go," she said to Falkner, "there also I shall 
be — I shall not repine, however you decide — 
but we shall be very happy at Belleforest." 

It was real modesty — and no false pride 
that actuated Falkner. He felt happy, yet 
when he looked outward, he fancied that 
hereafter he must be shut out from society — a 
branded man. He intimately felt the injus- 
tice of this. He accepted it as a punishment 
for the past, but he did not the less proudly 
rise above it. It was a real pleasure to find one 
entertaining the generous sentiments which 
Mrs. Raby expressed, and capable of acting 
on them. He felt worthy of her regard, and 



286 FALKNEK. 

acknowledged that none but conventional rea- 
sons placed any barrier to his accepting her 
kind offers. Why then should he reject them? 
He did not; frankly, and with sincere thanks, 
he suffered himself to be overruled ; and on 
the following day they were on their road to 
Belleforest. 



FALKNER. 287 



CHAPTER XIX. 



It was one of those days which do some- 
times occur in March — warm and balmy, and 
enlivening as spring always is. The birds 
were busy among the leafless boughs ; and if 
the carriage stopped for a moment, the gush- 
ing song of the skylark attracted the eye to 
his blue ethereal bower; a joyous welcome 
was breathed by nature to every heart, and 
none answered it so fervently as Falkner. 
Sentiments of pleasure possessed all three 
travellers. Mrs. Raby experienced that ex- 
ultation natural to all human beings when 



288 FALKNER. 

performing a generous action. Elizabeth felt 
that in going to Belleforest she drew nearer 
Neville — for there was no reason why he 
should not enter her grandfather's doors ; but 
Falkner was happier than either. It was not 
the vulgar joy of having escaped danger, 
partly it was gladness to see Elizabeth restored 
to her family, where only, as things were, she 
could find happiness, and yet not divided from 
liim. Partly it arose from the relief he felt, as 
the burthen of heavy, long-endured care wa> 
lifted from his soul. But there was something 
more, which was incomprehensible even to 
himself. " His bosom's lord sat lightly on 
it- throne" — he no longer turned a saddened, 
reproachful eye on nature, nor any more 
banished soft emotions, nourishing remorse 
as a duty. He was reconciled to himself and 
the world ; t'.e very circumstances of his 
prison and his trial being over, took with 
them the more galling portion of his retro- 
spections — health again filled his veins. At 



FALKNER. 289 

the moment when he had first accused himself, 
Neville saw in him a man about to die. It was 
evident now that the seeds of disease were de- 
stroyed — his person grew erect — his eye clear 
and animated. Elizabeth had never, since they 
left Greece, seen him so free from suffering ; 
during all her intercourse with him, she never 
remembered him so bland and cheerful in his 
mood. It was the reward of much suffering — 
the gift of Heaven to one who had endured 
patiently — opening his heart to the affections, 
instead of cherishing pride and despair. It was 
the natural result of a noble disposition which 
could raise itself above even its own errors — 
throwing off former evil as alien to its nature 
— embracing good as its indefeasible right. 

They entered the majestic avenues and em- 
bowered glades of Belleforest — where cedar, 
larch, and pine diversified the bare woods with 
a show of foliage — the turf was covered with 
early flowers — the buds were green and burst- 

vol. in. o 



290 FALKNER. 

ing on the boughs. Falkner remembered his 
visit the preceding summer. How little had 
he then foreseen impending events ; and how 
far from his heart had then been the peace 
that at present so unaccountably possessed it. 
Then the wide demesne and stately mansion 
had appeared the abode of gloom and bigotry ; 
now it was changed to a happy valley, where 
love and cheerfulness reigned. 

Mrs. Raby was welcomed by her children — 
two elegant girls of fifteen and sixteen, and a 
spirited boy of twelve. They adored their 
mother; and saw in their new cousin an occa- 
sion for rejoicing. Their sparkling looks and 
gay voices dispelled the last remnant of me- 
lancholy from the venerable mansion. Old 
Oswi Rabi himself — too much sunk in dotage 
to understand what was going on — yet smiled 
and looked glad on the merry faces about 
him. He could not exactly make out who 
Elizabeth was — he was sure that it was a rela- 



FALKNER. 291 

tion, and he treated her with an obsequious 
respect, which, considering his former imper- 
tinent tone, was exceedingly amusing. 

What was wanting to complete the univer- 
sal happiness ? Elizabeth's spirits rose to un- 
wonted gaiety in the society of her young- 
relations — and her cousin Edwin in particular 
found her the most delightful companion in 
the world — for she was as fearless on horse- 
back as himself, and was unwearied in amusing 
him by accounts of the foreign countries she 
had seen — and adventures, ridiculous or fear- 
ful, that she had encountered. In Mrs. Raby 
she found a beloved friend for serious hours ; 
and Falkner's recovered health and spirits 
were a source of exhaustless congratulation. 

Yet where was Gerard Neville? Where 
the looks of love — and rapturous sense of 
sympathy, before which all the other joys of 
life fade into dimness ? — Love causes us to 
get more rid of our haunting identity, and 
to give ourselves more entirely^iway than any 

o 2 



292 FALKNER. 

other emotion ; it is the most complete — the 
most without veil or shadow to mar its beauty. 
rv other human passion occupies but a 
distinct portion of our being. This assimilates 
with all, and turns the whole into bliss or 
misery. Elizabeth did not fear that Gerard 
would forget her. He had remembered through 
the dark hours gone by — and now his shadow 
walked with her beneath the avenues of Belle- 
forest, and t lie recollection of his love impreg- 
nated the balmy airs of spring with a sweetness 
unfelt before. Elizabeth had now leisure to 
lt.\c — and many an hour she spent in solitary 
yet blissful dreams — almost wondering that 
such happiness was to be found on earth. What 
a change — what a contrast between the death- 
girt prison of Carlisle, and the love-adorned 
glades of her ancestral park ! — Not long ago 
the sky appeared to bend over one universe of 
tears and woe — and now, in the midst, a piece 
of heaven had dropped down upon earth, and 
she had entered the enchanted ground. 



FALKNER. 293 

Yet as weeks sped on, some thoughts troubled 
her repose. Gerard neither came nor wrote. 
At length she got a letter from Lady Cecil, 
congratulating her on Falkner's acquittal, 
and the kindness of her aunt ; her letter 
was amiable, yet it was constrained ; and Eliza- 
beth, reading it again and again, and pon- 
dering on every expression, became aware 
that her friends felt less satisfaction than she 
did in the turn of fortune, that placed her and 
Falkner together under her paternal roof. 
She had believed that, as Elizabeth Raby, 
Neville would at once claim her ; but she was 
forced to recollect that Falkner was still at 
her side; — and what intercourse could there be 
between him and his mother's destroyer ? 

Thus anxiety and sadness penetrated poor 
Elizabeth's new found paradise. She strove 
to appear the same, but she stole away when 
she could, to meditate alone on her strange 
lot. It doubled her regret, to think that 
Neville also was unhappy. She figured the 



294 FALKNER. 

struggles he underwent. She almost thought 
that if he were happy, she could bear all. She 
remembered him as she last saw him, agitated 
and wretched — she alone, she felt sure, could 
calm — she alone minister happiness — and 
were they never more to meet ? 

Falkner, who watched Elizabeth with all 
the jealousy of excessive affection, soon per- 
ceived the change. At first, her gaiety had 
been spontaneous, her step free, her voice and 
laugh the very echo of joy ; now, the forced 
smile, the frequent abstraction, the eagerness 
with which she watched for opportunities to 
steal into solitude, while her attentions to him 
became even more sedulous and tender ; as if 
she wished to prove how ready she was to 
make every sacrifice for his sake — all these 
appearances he saw, and his heart ached to 
think how the effects of his errors still spread 
poison over his own life, and that of one so dear. 

He felt sure that Mrs. Raby shared his 
uneasiness. She and her niece were much 



FALKNER. 295 

less together than before. Elizabeth could 
not speak of the thoughts that occupied her ; 
and she could not feign with her dear, wise 
friend, whose eyes read her soul, and whose 
counsels or consolations she alike feared. 
Falkner saw Mrs. Raby's regards fix anxiously 
on her young relative ; he penetrated her 
thoughts, and again he was forced to abhor 
himself, as the destroyer of the happiness of 
all who came within his sphere. 

It was evident that some communication 
must take place between some one of the 
individuals thus misplaced and wretched. 
Elizabeth alone was resigned, and therefore 
silent. Falkner longed to act rather than to 
speak ; to depart, to disappear for ever ; he 
also, therefore, brooded mutely over the state 
of things. Mrs. Raby, seeing the wretched- 
ness that was creeping over the hearts of 
those whose happiness she most desired, was 
the first to enter on the subject. One day, 
being alone with Falkner, she began: "The 



296 FALKNER. 

more I see and admire my dearest niece," she 
said, " the greater I feel our obligation to be 
to you, Mr. Falkner, for having made her 
what she is. Her natural disposition is full 
of excellence, but it is the care and the edu- 
cation you bestowed, which give her character 
so high a tone. Had she come to us in her 
childhood, it is more than probable she would 
have been placed in a convent, — and what 
nature, however perfect, but would be injured 
by the system that reigns in those places? 
To you we owe our fairest flower, and if grati- 
tude could repay you, you would be repaid by 
mine ; to prove it, and to serve you, must 
always be the most pleasing duty of my life." 
" I should be much happier," said Falkner, 
' ' if I could regard my interference as you do ; 
I fear I have injured irreparably my beloved 
girl, and that, through me, she is suffering 
pangs, which she is too good to acknowledge, 
but which, in the end, may destroy her. Had 
I restored her to you, had she been brought 



FALKNER. 297 

up here, she and Gerard Neville would not 
now be separated." 

" But they might never have met," replied 
Mrs.Raby. " It is indeed vain thus to regard 
the past — not only is it unalterable, but each 
link of the chain, producing the one that fol- 
lowed, seems in our instance, to have been 
formed and riveted by a superior power for 
peculiar purposes. The whole order of events 
is inscrutable — one little change, and none of 
us would be as we are now. Except as a 
lesson or a warning, we ought not to contem- 
plate the past, but the future certainly de- 
mands our attention. It is impossible to see 
Gerard Neville, and not to feel an intense 
interest in him ; he is worthy of our Elizabeth, 
and he is ardently attached to her, and has 
besides made a deep impression on her young 
heart, which I would not have erased or 
lessened ; for I am sure that her happiness, as 
far as mortals can be happy, will be insured 
by their marriage." 

o 3 



298 FALKNER. 

" I stand in the way of this union ; of that I 
am well aware," said Falkner ; "but be as- 
sured I will not continue to be an obstacle to 
the welfare of my angel girl. It is for this that 
I would consult you : — how are contradictions 
to be reconciled, or rather, how can we con- 
trive my absence so as to remove every im- 
pediment, and yet not to awaken Elizabeth's 
suspicions ?" 

" I dislike contrivances," replied Mrs. Raby ; 
" and I hate all mystery — suffer me therefore 
to speak frankly to you — I have often con- 
versed with Elizabeth, she is firm not to 
marry, so as to be wholly divided from you. 
She reasons calmly, but she never wavers : she 
will not, she says, commence new duties, by, 
in the first place, betraying her old ones ; she 
should be for ever miserable if she did, and 
therefore those who love her must not ask it. 
Sir Gerard entertains similar sentiments with 
regard to himself, though less resolute, and, I 
believe, less just than hers. I received a letter 



FALKNER. 



299 



from him this morning. I was pondering 
whether to show it to you or to my niece ; it 
seems to me best that you should read it, if it 
will not annoy you." 

" Give it me," said Falkner ; " and permit 
me also to answer it — it is not in my nature to 
dally with evils— I shall meet those that now 
present themselves, and bring the best remedy 
I can, at whatever cost." 

Neville's letter was that of a man, whose 
wishes were at war with his principles ; and 
yet who was not convinced of the justice of 
the application of those principles. It began 
by deeply regretting the estrangement of 
Elizabeth from his family, by asking Mrs. 
Raby if she thought that she could not be 
induced to pay another visit to Lady Cecil. 
He said that that lady was eager to see her, and 
only delayed asking her, till she ascertained 
whether her friendship, which was warm and 
lively as ever, would prove as acceptable as 
formerly. 



300 FALKNER. 

" I will at once be frank with you," the 
letter continued; " for your excellent under- 
standing may direct us, and will suggest ex- 
cuses for our doubts. You may easily divine 
the cause of our perplexities, though you can 
scarcely comprehend the extremely painful 
nature of mine. Permit me to treat you as a 
friend — be the judge of my cause — I have 
faith in the purity and uprightness of a 
woman's heart, when she is endowed with 
gifts, such as you possess. I had once thought 
to refer myself to Miss Raby herself, but 
I dread the generous devotedness of her dis- 
position. Will you who love her, take there- 
fore the task of decision on yourself?" 

Neville went on to express in few, but 
forcible words his attachment to Elizabeth, 
his conviction that it could never change, and 
his persuasion that she returned it. "It is not 
therefore my cause merely, that I plead," he 
said, " but hers also. Do not call me pre- 
sumptuous for thus expressing myself. A 



FALKNER. 301 

mutual attachment alone can justify extra- 
ordinary conduct, but where it is mutual, every 
minor consideration ought to give way before 
it ; the happiness of both our lives depends 
upon our not trifling with feelings which I am 
sure can never change. They may be the 
source of perpetual felicity— if not, they will, 
they must be, pregnant with misery to the end 
of our lives. But why this sort of explanation, 
when the meaning that I desire to convey is, 
that if — that as — may I not say — we love each 
other — no earthly power shall deprive me of 
her — sooner or later she must, she shall be, 
mine; and meanwhile this continued separa- 
tion is painful beyond my fortitude to bear. 

" Can I take my mother's destroyer by the 
hand, and live with him on terms of intimacy 
and friendship ? Such is the price I must pay 
for Elizabeth — can I — may I — so far forget the 
world's censure, and I may say the instiga- 
tions of nature, as unreservedly to forgive ? 

" I will confess to you, dear Mrs. Haby, 



302 FALKNER. 

that when I saw Falkner in the most degrad- 
ing situation in which a man can he placed, 
manacled, and as a felon, his dignity of mien, 
his majestic superiority to all the race of 
common mortals around, the grandeur of his 
calm yet piercing eye, and the sensibility of 
his voice — won my admiration : with such is 
peopled that heaven where the noble peni- 
tent is more welcome than the dull follower of 
a narrow code of morals, who never erred, 
because he never felt. I pardoned him, 
then, from my heart, in my mother's name. 
These sentiments, the entire forgiveness of 
the injury done me, and the sense of his 
merits still continue : but may I act on them ? 
would not you despise me if I did? say 
but that you would, and my sentence is pro- 
nounced — I lose Elizabeth — I quit England for 
ever — it matters little where I go. 

" Yet before you decide, consider that this 
man possesses virtues of the highest order. 
He honoured as much as he loved my mother, 



FALKNER. 

and if his act was criminal, dearly has he paid 
the result. I persuade myself that there is 
more real sympathy between me and my 
mother's childhood's friend — who loved her 
so long and truly — whose very crime was a 
mad excess of love — than one who knew 
nothing of her — to whom her name conjures 
up no memories, no regret. 

" I feel that I could lament with Falkner 
the miserable catastrophe, and yet not curse 
him for bringing it about. Nay — as with such 
a man there can be no half sentiments — I feel 
that if we are thrown together, his noble qua- 
lities will win ardent sentiments of friendship ; 
were not his victim my mother, there does 
not exist a man whose good opinion I should 
so eagerly seek and highly prize as that of 
Rupert Falkner. It is that fatal name which 
forms the barrier between me and charity- 
shutting me out, at the same time, from hope 
and love. 

" Thus incoherently I put down my thoughts 



304 FALKNER, 

as they rise — a tangled maze which I ask you 
to unravel. I will endeavour to abide by 
your decision, whatever it may be ; yet I again 
ask you to pause. Is Elizabeth's happiness 
as deeply implicated as mine ? if it be, can I 
abide by any sentence that shall condemn her 
to a wretchedness similar to that which has 
so long been an inmate of my struggling 
heart? no; sooner than inflict one pang on 
her, I will fly from the world. We three will 
seek some far obscure retreat and be happy, 
despite the world's censure, and even your 
condemnation." 

Falkner's heart swelled within him as he 
read. He could not but admire Neville's 
candour — and he was touched by the feelings 
he expressed towards himself; but pride was 
stronger than regret, and prompted an instant 
and decisive reply. He rebelled against the 
idea that Gerard and Elizabeth should suffer 
through him, and thus he wrote : — 

"You have appealed to Mrs. Raby; will 



FALKNER. 



305 



you suffer me to answer that appeal, and to 
decide ? I have a better right ; for kind as 
she is, I have Elizabeth's welfare yet more 
warmly at heart. 

" The affection that she feels for you will 
endure to the end of her life— for her faithful 
heart is incapable of change; on you there- 
fore depends her happiness, and you are 
called upon to make some sacrifice to insure 
it. Come here, take her at my hand — it is all 
I ask — from that hour you shall never see me 
more — the injured and the injurer will sepa- 
rate ; my fortunes are of my own earning, and 
I can bear them. You must compensate to 
my dear child for my loss — you must be 
father as well as husband — and speak kindly 
of me to her, or her heart will break. 

" We must be secret in our proceedings — 
mystery and deception are contrary to my 
nature — but I willingly adopt them for her 
sake. Mrs. Raby must not be trusted ; but 
you and I love Elizabeth sufficiently even to 



306 FALKNER. 

sacrifice a portion of our integrity to secure 
her happiness. For her own sake we must 
blindfold her. She need never learn that we 
deceived her. She will naturally be sepa- 
rated from me for a short time — the period 
will be indefinitely prolonged — till new duties 
arise wholly to wean her from me — and I 
shall be forgotten. 

" Come then at once — endure the sight of 
the guilty Falkner for a few short days — till 
you thus earn his dearest treasure — and do 
not fear that I shall intrude one moment 
longer than is absolutely necessary for our 
success ; be assured that when once Elizabeth 
is irrevocably yours, wide seas shall roll be- 
tween us. Nor will your condescension to 
my wish bring any stigma on yourself or your 
bride, for Miss Raby does not bear my tainted 
name. All I ask is, that you will not delay. 
It is difficult for me to cloke my feelings to 
one so dear — let my task of deception be 
abridged as much as possible. 



FALKNER. 307 

" I shall give my Elizabeth to you with 
confidence and pleasure. You deserve her. 
Your generous disposition will enable you to 
endure her affection for me, and even her 
grief at my departure. Never speak unkindly 
of me to her. When you see me no more, 
you will find less difficulty in forgetting the 
injury I have done you ; you must endeavour to 
remember only the benefit you receive in gain- 
ing Elizabeth." 



308 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER XX. 



The beautiful month of May had arrived, 
with her light budding foliage, which seems 
to hang over the hoar branches of the trees 
like a green aerial mist — the nightingales 
sung through the moonlight night, and every 
other feathered chorister took up the note at 
early dawn. The sweetest flowers in the 
year embroidered the fields ; and the verdant 
cornfields were spread like a lake, now glitter- 
ing in the sun, now covered over by the sha- 
dows of the clouds. It appeared impossible 
not to hope — not to enjoy; yet a seriousness 



FALKNER. 309 

had again gathered over Falkner's counte- 
nance that denoted the return of care. He 
avoided the society even of Elizabeth — his 
rides were solitary — his evenings passed in 
the seclusion of his own room. Elizabeth, 
for the first time in her life, grew a little dis- 
contented. ." I sacrifice all to him," she 
thought, " yet T cannot make him happy. 
Love alone possesses the sceptre and arbitrary 
power to rule ; every other affection admits a 
parliament of thoughts — and debate and divi- 
sions ensue, which may make us wiser, but 
which sadly derogates from the throned state 
of what we fancy a master sentiment. I can- 
not make Falkner happy; yet Neville is mise- 
rable through my endeavours— and to such 
struggle there is no end — my promised faith 
is inviolable, nor do I even wish to break it." 
One balmy, lovely day, Elizabeth rode out 
with her cousins ; Mrs. Raby was driving her 
father-in-law through the grounds in the pony 
phaeton — Falkner had been out, and was 



310 FALKNER. 

returned. Several days had passed, and no 
answer arrived from Neville. He was uneasy 
and sad, and yet rejoiced at the respite afforded 
to the final parting with his child. Suddenly, 
from the glass doors of the saloon, he per- 
ceived a gentleman riding up the avenue ; 
he recognized him, and exclaimed, "All is 
over ! " At that moment he felt himself 
transported to a distant land — surrounded 
by strangers — cut off from all he held dear. 
Such must be the consequence of the arrival 
of Gerard Neville ; and it was he, who, dis- 
mounting, in a few minutes after entered the 
room . 

He came up to Falkner, and held out his 
hand, saying, " We must be friends, Mr. 
Falkner — from this moment I trust that we 
are friends. We join together for the happi- 
ness of the dearest and most perfect being in 
the world/' 

Falkner could not take his hand — his 
manner grew cold ; but he readily replied, 



FALKNER. 311 

" I hope we do ; and we must concert together 
to insure our success." 

" Yet there is one other," continued Neville, 
" whom we must take into our consulta- 
tions." 

* Mrs. Raby?" 

" No ! Elizabeth herself. She alone can 
decide for us all, and teach us the right path 
to take. Do not mistake me, I know the road 
she will point out, and am ready to follow it. 
Do you think I could deceive her? Could I 
ask her to give me her dear self, and thus 
generously raise me to the very height of human 
happiness, with deception on my lips ? I were 
indeed unworthy of her, if I were capable 
of such an act. 

" Yet, but for the sake of honest truth, I 
would not even consult her — my own mind is 
made up, if you consent ; I am come to you, 
Mr. Falkner, as a suppliant, to ask you to give 
me your adopted child, but not to separate 
you from her : I should detest myself if I 



312 



FALKNER. 



were the cause of so much sorrow to either. If 
my conduct need explanation in the world, 
you are my excuse, I need go no further. We 
must both join in rendering Miss Raby happy, 
and both, I trust, remain friends to the end of 
our lives." 

" You are generous," replied Falkner; 
" perhaps you are just. I am not unworthy 
of the friendship you offer, were you any other 
than you are." 

"It is because I am such as I am, that I 
venture to make advances which would be 
impertinent from any other." 

At this moment, a light step was heard on 
the lawn without, and Elizabeth stood before 
them. She paused in utter wonder on seeing 
Falkner and Neville together ; soon surprise 
was replaced by undisguised delight — her ex- 
pressive countenance became radiant with 
happiness. Falkner addressed her: " I pre- 
sent a friend to you, dear Elizabeth ; I leave 
you with him — he will best explain his pur- 



FALKNER. 313 

poses and wishes- Meanwhile I must remark, 
that I consider him bound by nothing that 
has been said; you must take counsel to- 
gether — you must act for your mutual happi- 
ness — that is all the condition I make — I yield 
to no other. Be happy ; and, if it be necessary, 
forget me, as I am very willing to forget 
myself." 

Falkner left them ; and they instinctively, 
so to prevent interruption, took their way into a 
woody glade of the park ; and as they walked 
beneath the shadows of some beautiful lime- 
trees, on the crisp green turf, disclosed to each 
other every inner thought and feeling. Neville 
declared his resolve not to separate her from 
her benefactor. " If the world censure me," 
he said, " I am content; I am accustomed to 
its judgments, and never found them sway or 
annoy me. I do right for my own heart. It 
is a godlike task to reward the penitent. In 
religion and morality I know that I am justi- 
fied : whether I am in the code of worldly 

VOL. III. p 



314 FALKNER. 

honour, I leave others to decide ; and yet I 
believe that I am. I had once thought to 
have met Falkner in a duel, but my father's 
vengeance prevented that. He is now ac- 
quitted before all the world, of being more 
than the accidental cause of my dear mother's 
death. Knights of old, after they fought in 
right good earnest, became friends, each 
finding, in the bravery of the other, a cause 
for esteem. Such is the situation of Rupert 
Falkner and myself; and we will both join, 
dear Elizabeth, in making him forget the past, 
and rendering his future years calm and 
happy." 

Elizabeth could only look her gratitude. 
She felt, as was most true, that this was not 
a cause for words or reason. Falkner in 
himself offered, or did not offer, full excuse for 
the generosity of Neville. No one could see 
him, and not allow that the affectionate, 
duteous son in no way derogated from his 
reverence for his mother's memory, by entirely 



FALKNER. 315 

forgiving him who honoured her as an earthly 
angel, and had deplored, through years of 
unutterable anguish, the mortal injury done 
her. Satisfied in his own mind that he acted 
rightly, Neville did not seek for any other 
approval ; and yet he gladly accepted it from 
Elizabeth, whose heart, touched to its very 
core by his nobleness, felt an almost painful 
weight of gratitude and love ; she tried to 
express it : fortunately, between lovers mere 
language is not necessary ineffectually to 
utter that which transcends all expression. 
Neville felt himself most sweetly thanked ; a 
more happy pair never trod this lovely earth 
than the two that, closely linked hand in 
hand, and with hearts open and true as the 
sunlight about them, enjoyed the sweetest 
hour of love, the first of acknowledged per- 
petual union, beneath the majestic, deep 
shadowing thickets of Belleforest. 

All that had seemed so difficult, now took 
its course easily. They did not any of them 



316 FALKNER. 

seek to account for, or to justify the course 
they took. They each knew that they could 
not do other than they did. Elizabeth could 
not break faith with Falkner — Neville could 
not renounce her ; it might be strange — but 
it must be so : they three must remain together 
through life, despite all of tragic and miserable 
that seemed to separate them. 

Even Lady Cecil admitted that there was 
no choice. Elizabeth must be won — she was 
too dear a treasure to be voluntarily re- 
nounced. In a few weeks, the wedding-day 
of Sir Gerard Neville and Miss Raby being 
fixed, she joined them at Belleforest, and saw, 
with genuine pleasure, the happiness of the 
two persons whom she esteemed and loved 
most in the world, secured. Mrs. Raby's warm 
heart reaped its own reward, in witnessing 
this felicitous conclusion of her interference. 

Whether the reader of this eventful tale 
will coincide with every other person, fully in 
the confidence of all, in the opinion that such 



FALKNER. 317 

was the necessary termination of a position 
full of difficulty, is hard to say — but so it was ; 
and it is most certain that no woman who 
ever saw Rupert Falkner, but thought Neville 
just and judicious ; and if any man disputed 
this point, when he saw Elizabeth, he was an 
immediate convert. 

As much happiness as any one can enjoy, 
whose inner mind bears the unhealing wound 
of a culpable act, fell to the portion of Falk- 
ner. He had repented ; and was forgiven, we 
may believe, in heaven, as well as on earth. 
He could not forgive himself-— and this one 
shadow remained upon his lot — it could not 
be got rid of; yet perhaps in the gratitude he 
felt to those about him, in the softened tender- 
ness inspired by the sense that he was dealt 
with more leniently than he believed that he 
deserved, he found full compensation for the 
memories that made him feel himself a per- 
petual mourner beside Alithea's grave. * 

Neville and Elizabeth had no drawback to 



318 FALKNER. 

their felicity. They cared not for the world, 
and when they did enter it, the merits of both 
commanded respect and liking ; they were 
happy in each other, happy in a growing 
family, happy in Falkner; whom, as Neville 
had said, it was impossible to regard with luke- 
warm sentiments; and they derived a large 
store of happiness from his enlightened mind, 
from the elevated tone of moral feeling, which 
was the result of his sufferings, and from the 
deep affection with which he regarded them 
both. They were happy also in the wealth 
which gave scope to the benevolence of their 
dispositions, and in the talents that guided 
them rightly through the devious maze of life. 
They often visited Dromore, but their chief 
time was spent at their seat in Bucks, near 
which Falkner had purchased a villa. He 
lived in retirement : he grew a sage amidst 
his books and his own reflections. But his 
heart was true to itself to the end, and his 
pleasures were derived from the society of his 



FALKNER. 319 

beloved Elizabeth, of Neville, who was scarcely 
less dear, and their beautiful children. Sur- 
rounded by these, he felt no want of the nearest 
ties ; they were to him as his own. Time 
passed lightly on, bringing no apparent change ; 
thus they still live — and Neville has never for 
a moment repented the irresistible impulse 
that led him to become the friend of him, 
whose act had rendered his childhood mise- 
rable, but who completed the happiness of his 
maturer years. 



THE END. 



Stevens and Pardon, Printers, Beli Yard, Temple Bar. 



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